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Title: Fenelon's Treatise on the Education of Daughters - Translated from the French, and Adapted to English Readers
Author: Fénelon, François de Salignac de La Mothe-
Language: English
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[Illustration: Woman reading to girl]

  _Delightful task! to rear the tender thought,
  To teach the young idea how to shoot._






  With an Original Chapter,

  "On Religious Studies."


  Author of
  "_An Introduction to the Knowledge of the best Editions of
  the Greek and Latin Classics_," _&c._

  "Chaste and modest writings never alter the honour of any gentlewoman.
  For as the remembrance of infamous persons is much detested and hated
  by the _Muses_--so is the glory and renown of the virtuous installed
  by them in eternal memory for ever."
                       PASTORALS OF JULIETTA.  _Fol. Edit._ 1610.
                                _Pt. 3_, _p._ 88.

  So in this pilgrimage I would behold
  You, as you are--VIRTUE'S TEMPLE!
             DONNE'S POEMS.  _Edit._ 1650. _p._ 156.
                      [_To the Countess of Bedford._]




Entered at Stationers' Hall.

  This small Tribute

  H. RUFF.


The Translation of the following Work was undertaken at the request of
Mr. RUFF, the Publisher, who wished me to paraphrase what I thought
might more particularly interest and edify the English reader.

It is dedicated, by the Publisher, to her Grace the DUCHESS OF BEDFORD
--and he is anxious that it may be found worthy of her patronage.

The original French work was first published in 1688; and the earliest
English translation appeared in 1707. This translation, which was by
Dr. Hickes, I have never seen. In the year 1797, another [anonymous]
English translation was printed at Hull, in a duodecimo volume. In this
performance there is so close an adherence to the idiom of the French
language, that almost every page abounds with gallicisms. It is not,
however, entirely destitute of merit; but it appears, on the whole,
to have been hastily executed for the purpose of ensuring a cheap and
extensive sale.

The present translation is offered to the public, with a full conviction
of its inadequacy to give a just idea of the beauty and force of the
original. The author of "_Telemaque_" and "_De l'Education des Filles_"
appears, on a comparison of these two performances, very unlike the same
writer. In the former, his periods are flowing and luxuriant; in the
latter, they are sententious and logical; and nearly as difficult to
clothe in an English-dress as those of the philosophical Tacitus.

It will be seen, therefore, that a literal translation has not been
attempted; and a still greater deviation will be observable, from a
wish to distinguish it from the translation of 1797. Whether this has
always been done for the better, the reader will determine for himself.

The _Original Chapter_ "ON RELIGIOUS STUDIES" has been submitted to
those, whose opinions, matured by experience, I have been anxious to
obtain; and it has received the sanction of their approbation.

If the Work fail of success, it will not be from the want of spirit in
the Publisher; for it is accompanied with considerable beauty of type
and paper, and elegance of ornament.

The _design_ is every way worthy of the ingenious artist by whom it was
executed, and who has long been known to the world from the taste and
fidelity of his pencil. The engraving, by Mr. Freeman, will convince
the public that he requires only to be known, to be more generally

                                                       T. F. D.

  _June 2, 1805._





  THE DANGER OF IMITATION                 33

  INDIRECT INSTRUCTIONS                   37

  USE OF HISTORY                          87

  PRINCIPLES OF RELIGION                 106

  ON RELIGIOUS STUDIES                   141


  VANITY OF BEAUTY AND DRESS             174



  OF GOVERNESSES                         227




_On the Importance of the Education of Daughters._

The Education of Girls is, in general, exceedingly neglected:[1] custom,
and maternal caprice, often appear to have the entire regulation of it.
It absolutely seems as if we 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

 [1] 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.

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 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 moderate exercise; their bodies as well as minds
are less strong and energetic than those of men; but to compensate for
their defects, nature has bestowed on them a spirit of industry, united
with a propriety of behaviour, and an economy which renders them at once
the ornament and comfort of home.[2]

 [2] This idea is beautifully expressed in the following lines of

  "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.

But admitting that women are by nature weaker than men, what is the
consequence? What, but that the weaker they are, the more they stand in
need of support. Have they not duties to perform, which are the very
foundation of human existence? Consider, it is women who ruin or uphold
families; who regulate the _minutiæ_ of domestic affairs; and who
consequently decide upon some of the dearest and tenderest points
which affect the happiness of Man. They have undoubtedly the strongest
influence on the manners, good or bad, of society. A sensible woman, who
is industrious and religious, is the very soul of a large establishment,
and provides both for its temporal and eternal welfare. Notwithstanding
the authority of men in public affairs, it is evident, that they cannot
effect any lasting good, without the intervention and support of women.

The _world_ is not a phantom, it is _the aggregate of all its families_;
and who can civilize and govern these with a nicer discrimination than
women? besides their natural assiduity and authority at home, they are
peculiarly calculated for it, by a carefulness, attention to particulars,
industry, and a soft and persuasive manner. Can men promise themselves
any felicity in this life, if marriage, the very essence of domestic
society, be productive of bitterness and disappointment? and as to
children, who are to constitute the future generation, to what misery
will _they_ be exposed, if their mothers ruin them from the cradle?

Such then, are the occupations of the female sex, which cannot be
deemed of less importance to society than those of the male. It appears
that they have a house and establishment to regulate, a husband to make
happy, and children to rear. Virtue is as necessary for men as for
women; and without entering upon the comparative good or ill which
society experiences from the latter sex, it must be remembered that they
are _one half of the human race_, REDEEMED BY THE BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST,

Lastly, let us not forget that if women do great good to the community
when well educated, they are capable of infinite mischief when viciously
instructed. It is certain that a bad education works less ill in a male,
than in a female breast; for the vices of men often proceed from the
bad education which their mothers have given them, and from passions
which have been instilled into them at a riper age, from casual
intercourse with women.

What intrigues does history present to us--what subversion of laws
and manners--what bloody wars--what innovations in religion--what
revolutions in states--all arising from the irregularities of women?
Ought not these considerations to impress us with the importance of
female education? Let us, therefore, discuss the various means of
accomplishing so desirable an object.


_Errors in the Ordinary Mode of Education._

Ignorance is one of the causes of the _ennui_ and discontent of young
persons, and of the absence of all rational amusement. When a child has
arrived at a certain age without having applied to solid pursuits, she
can have neither taste nor relish for them. Every thing which is serious
assumes to her mind a sorrowful appearance; and that which requires a
continued attention, wearies and disgusts her. The natural inclination
to pleasure, which is strong in youth--the example of young people of
the same age, plunged in dissipation--every thing, in short, serves to
excite a dread of an orderly and industrious life. In this early age,
she wants both experience and authority to take a decided part in the
management of household affairs; she is even ignorant of the important
consequences resulting from it, unless her mother has previously
instructed her in some of its departments. If she be born to affluence,
she is not necessitated to undergo manual toil: she may probably work
an hour or two a day, because she hears it said, without knowing why,
that "it is proper for women to work"--but this pithy proverb will
only produce the semblance, without the substance, of real useful

In such a situation what is she to do? The society of a mother, who
narrowly watches, scolds, and thinks she is performing her duty in not
overlooking the least fault--who is never satisfied, but always trying
the temper, and appears herself immersed in domestic cares; all this
disgusts and torments her. She is, moreover, surrounded with flattering
servants, who, seeking to insinuate themselves, by base and dangerous
compliances, gratify all her fancies, and direct her conversation to
every topic but that of goodness and virtue. To her, piety appears an
irksome task--a foe to every rational amusement. What, then, are her
occupations? None that are useful. Hence arises a habit of indolence,
which at length becomes incurable.

Meantime what is to fill this vacuity? Nothing but the most frivolous
and contemptible pursuits. In such a state of lassitude, a young woman
abandons herself to pure idleness; and idleness, which may be termed
a languor of the soul, is an inexhaustible source of weariness and
discontent. She sleeps one-third more than is necessary to preserve
her health: this protracted slumber serves only to enervate and render
her more delicate; more exposed to the turbulency of passion; whereas
moderate sleep, accompanied with regular exercise, produces that
cheerfulness, vigour, and elasticity of spirits, which form, perhaps,
the true criterion of bodily and mental perfection.

This weariness and idleness, united with ignorance, beget a pernicious
eagerness for public diversions; hence arises a spirit of curiosity, as
indiscreet as it is insatiable.

Those who are instructed and busied in serious employments, have,
in general, but a moderate curiosity. What they know gives them an
indifference for many things of which they are ignorant; and convinces
them of the inutility and absurdity of those things, with which narrow
minds, that know nothing, and have nothing to exercise themselves upon,
are extremely desirous of becoming acquainted.

On the contrary, young women, without instruction and application, have
always a roving imagination. In want of substantial employment, their
curiosity hurries them on to vain and dangerous pursuits. Those who have
somewhat more vivacity, pique themselves on a superior knowledge, and
read, with avidity, every book which flatters their vanity: they become
enamoured of novels, plays, and "Tales of Wonder," in which love and
licentiousness predominate: they fill their minds with visionary
notions, by accustoming themselves to the splendid sentiments of heroes
of romance, and hence are rendered unfit for the common intercourse of
society; for all these fine airy sentiments, these generous passions,
these adventures, which the authors of romance have invented for
mere amusement, have no connexion with the real motives which
agitate mankind, and direct the affairs of the world; nor with those
disappointments which usually accompany us in almost every thing we

A poor girl, full of the tender and the marvellous, which have delighted
her in her reading, is astonished not to find in the world real
personages, resembling the heroes she has read of--fain would she live
like those imaginary princesses, whom fiction has described as always
charming, always adored, and always beyond the reach of want. What
disgust must she feel on descending from such a state of heroism, to
the lowest offices of housewifery!

Some there are who push their curiosity still further, and without the
least qualifications, presume to decide upon theological points.--But
those who have not sufficient grasp of intellect for these curiosities,
have other pursuits, better proportioned to their talents: they are
extremely desirous of knowing what is said, and going on in the world--a
song--news--an intrigue--to receive letters, and to read those that
other people receive; these things delight prodigiously; they wish
every thing to be told them, and to tell every thing in turn: they are
vain, and vanity is a sure incentive to talk. They become giddy, and
volatility prevents those reflections from rising which would shew them
the value of silence.


_Of the First Foundations of Education._

To remedy the evils just complained of, it is of material consequence to
commence a system of education from _Infancy_: this tender period, which
is too often intrusted to imprudent and irregular women, is, in truth,
the most susceptible of the strongest impressions, and consequently has
a great influence on the future regulation of life.

As soon as children can lisp, they may be prepared for instruction: this
may be thought paradoxical--but only consider what a child does before
it can talk. It is learning a language which it will, by and by, speak
with more accuracy, than the learned can speak the dead languages,
although studied at a mature period of life. But what is the learning a
language? It does not consist solely in treasuring in the memory a great
number of words--but in comprehending, says St. Austin, the meaning of
each particular word: the child, amidst its cries and amusements, knows
for what object each word is designed: this is obtained sometimes by
observing the natural motions of bodies which touch, or shew, the objects
of which one is speaking--sometimes by being struck with the frequent
repetition of the same word to signify the same thing. It cannot be
denied but that the brain of children is admirably calculated, from
its temperament, to receive impressions from all these images; but what
strength of mental attention is requisite to distinguish them, and to
unite each to its proper object?

Consider too, how children, even at such a tender age, attach themselves
to those who flatter, and avoid those who restrain, them: how well they
know to obtain their object by a tear, or silent submission: how much
artifice and jealousy they already possess! "I have seen," exclaims St.
Austin, "a jealous child: it could not speak; but its face was pale, and
the eyes were irritated against an infant that suckled with it."

From this it may be inferred, that infants know more at such an early
period than is usually imagined: thus, by soft words and appropriate
gestures, you may incline them towards honest and virtuous connexions,
rather than introduce them to those which it would be dangerous for
them to caress.--Thus, again, you may, by appropriate looks and tone
of voice, represent to them, with horror, those whom they have seen
exasperated with anger, or any other furious passion; and, on the other
hand, by a correspondent serenity of manner, depicture to them those who
are amiable and wise.

I do not wish to lay too great a stress on these subordinate matters:
but, in reality, these different dispositions form a commencement of
character which must not be neglected; and this mode of foreseeing,
as it were, the future dispositions of children, has imperceptible
consequences which facilitate their education.

If we still doubt of the power of these early prepossessions on future
maturity, we need only call to mind how lively and affecting, at an
advanced age, is the remembrance of those things which have delighted
us in childhood. If, instead of terrifying the minds of young people
with absurd notions of ghosts and spirits, which serve only to weaken
and disturb the still delicate texture of the brain: if, instead of
abandoning them to the caprice of a nurse for what they are to like or
dislike, we endeavoured always to impress on their minds an agreeable
idea of good, and a frightful one of evil--this foresight might
hereafter be the foundation of every practical virtue. On the contrary,
we frighten them with the idea of a clergyman clothed in black--we
talk of death merely to excite terror--and recount tales of the dead
revisiting the earth, at midnight, under hideous shapes! All this has
a tendency to weaken and agitate the mind, and to excite a prejudice
against the soundest doctrines.

One of the most useful and important things during infancy is, to be
particularly careful of the child's health; endeavouring to sweeten
the blood by a proper choice of food, and a simple regimen of life:
regulating its meals, so that it eat pretty nearly at the same hours,
and as it feels the inclination; that the stomach be not overloaded
before digestion takes place, and that no high-seasoned dishes be
introduced, which must necessarily give a disrelish for more healthful
food. Lastly, too many dishes should not be allowed at the same time;
for such a variety of food begets an appetite even after the real call
of hunger is satisfied.

Another very important consideration is, not to oppress the faculties
by too much instruction; to avoid every thing which may kindle the
passions; to deprive a child, gently and by degrees, of that for which
it has expressed too vehement a desire to obtain; so that, eventually,
it may be insensible of disappointment.

If a child's disposition be tolerably good, it may, by the foregoing
method, be rendered docile, patient, steady, cheerful, and tranquil;
whereas, if its tender years be neglected, it becomes restless and
turbulent during the remainder of its life; the blood boils, bad habits
are formed, and the body and mind, both equally susceptible, become
prone to evil. Hence arises a sort of second original sin, which, in
advanced age, is the source of a thousand disorders.

As soon as children arrive at a more mature period, or their reason
becomes unfolded, we must be careful that all our words have a tendency
to make them love truth, and detest artifice and hypocrisy. We ought
never to be guilty of any deception or falsehood to appease them, or to
persuade them to comply with our wishes: if we are, we instruct them in
cunning and artifice; and this they never forget. Reason and good sense
must be our instruments of regulation.

But let us examine with a little more attention the exact dispositions
of children, and what more particularly regards their treatment. The
substance of their brain is soft, but it becomes harder every day: it
has neither experience nor judgment to discriminate one object from
another, and every thing is, therefore, new to them. From this softness
and pliability of the brain, impressions are easily made; and the
surprize which accompanies novelty, is the cause of their continual
admiration, and extreme curiosity. It is true that this ductility of the
brain, attended with considerable heat, produces an easy and constant
motion; hence arises that bustle and volatility of youth, which is as
incapable of fixing the attention on one object, as it is of confining
the body to one spot.

Again, children are incapable of thinking and acting for themselves;
they remark every thing, but speak little; unless they have been
accustomed to talk much--an evil, against which we must be constantly on
our guard. The pleasure which we derive and express from the sight of
_pretty children_, spoils them; for they are, in consequence, accustomed
to utter every thing which comes uppermost, and to talk on subjects
of which they have no distinct ideas; hence is formed an habit of
precipitately passing judgment, and of discussing points they are
incapable of comprehending; an unfortunate circumstance! and which,
probably, adheres to them through life.

This admiration of _pretty children_ has another pernicious consequence;
they are sensible that you look at them, watch all their actions, and
listen to their prattle, with pleasure--hence they flatter themselves
that all the world must follow your example.

During this period, when applause is perpetually bestowed, and
contradiction seldom obtruded, children indulge chimerical hopes, which,
alas! are the source of endless disappointments throughout life. I have
seen children who always fancied you were talking about them, whenever
any thing was privately said--and this, forsooth, because it has
_sometimes_ actually been the case: they have also imagined themselves
to be most extraordinary and incomparable beings. Take care, therefore,
that in your attentions to children, they are unconscious of any
particular solicitude on your part: shew them that it is from pure
regard, and the helplessness of their condition to relieve their
own wants, that you interest yourself in their behalf--and not from
admiration of their talents. Be content to form their minds, by degrees,
according to each emergency that may arise: and if it were in your
power to advance their knowledge much beyond their years, even without
straining their intellect, by no means put it in practice; recollect
that the danger of _vanity_ and _arrogance_ is always greater than the
fruit of those premature educations which make so much noise in the

We must be satisfied to follow and assist nature. Children know little,
and should not be stimulated to talk: but the consequence of this
ignorance is, they are continually asking questions. We should,
therefore, answer them precisely, and add sometimes little comparisons,
which may throw light on the information we give them. If they judge of
some things without sufficient knowledge, they should be checked by a
new question, which might make them sensible of their error without
rudely confounding them; at the same time take care to impress on their
minds, not by vague praises, but by some effectual mark of esteem,
that they afford much more satisfaction when they _doubt_, and _ask
for information_, on points they do not know, than when they happen to
decide rightly. This is the sure method to implant in them a true sense
of modesty and politeness; and to excite a contempt for those idle
controversies in which ignorant young folks are too apt to indulge.

As soon as we begin to watch the dawn of reason spreading, we should
seize it as a favourable opportunity to guard them against presumption:
"You see," we should exclaim, "that you are much more reasonable and
tractable than you were last year--and in the _following_ year you will
observe things yet more clearly than you do at present--if, during the
last year, you were eager to have passed judgment on things which you
now know, and were then ignorant of, you would assuredly have judged
wrong. You would therefore have been to blame in offering opinions on
subjects above the reach of your intellect. There are, at this moment,
many things which remain for you to know; and you will one day be
convinced how imperfect are your _present_ conceptions. Nevertheless,
adhere to the counsel of those who judge of things as you yourself would
judge, were you gifted with their years and experience."

As the curiosity of children is a faculty which precedes instruction, we
should be careful to make them profit by it. For example, in the country
when they see a mill, they wish to know what it is--here, then, you
may shew them how that food is prepared which nourishes man. A little
further they perceive reapers--and you must explain to them their
occupation; how they sow the grain, and how it multiplies in the earth.
In the town they see a number of shops, where various trades are
exercised, and various merchandize is sold. Never consider their
questions as importunate; they are overtures which nature makes to
facilitate instruction--shew them, therefore, that you take pleasure in
these questions--for, by such means, you teach them insensibly how every
thing is made, which conduces to the comfort of man, and extension of
commerce. By degrees, and without any particular study, they become
acquainted with every article that is useful, and with the price affixed
to each, which is, indeed, the true foundation of economy. This kind of
knowledge, which no one should despise, because no one is willing to be
cheated from the want of it, is particularly necessary for women.


_The Danger of Imitation._

The ignorance of children, (in whose brain no correct impressions are
made,) renders them extremely susceptible, and inclined to imitate every
thing they see. It is, therefore, of consequence to set before them none
but the very best models of imitation; and to make them acquainted with
those, by whose examples they would be profited in following. But as it
happens, in spite of all our precautions, that they occasionally witness
many irregularities, we must not fail to warn them betimes against the
impertinence of certain foolish and dissipated people, whose reputation
is scarcely worth preserving: we must shew them how truly miserable and
deserving of contempt, are those who abandon themselves to passion,
without cultivating their reason. One may also give them, a correct
taste, free from affectation, and make them sensible of the true value
of modesty and decorum; we must not even abstain from guarding them
against probable errors, although by this means we may open their eyes
to certain defects in those whom they are taught to respect. We have
neither right nor reason to hope that they will remain ignorant on such
points, and therefore the best method to pursue, in order to keep them
to their duty, is, to persuade them to bear with the faults of others;
not to pass too severe a sentence on them, as they often appear greater
than they really are--that they are even compensated for by many good
qualifications--and that as there is no perfection in this world, they
should admire that which approaches the nearest towards it. Lastly,
although this advice should not be offered but in extreme cases, we
should, nevertheless, engraft on them _true principles_, and preserve
them from imitating all the evil that is set before them.

We must also be on our guard to prevent their imitation of _ridiculous
people_; whose low and buffoon-like manners have something in them
extremely revolting to noble and generous sentiments; we should be
apprehensive lest children afterwards assume these very manners; as
the warmth of their imagination, and pliability of body, added to the
pleasure they seem to take in such diversion, gives them a peculiar
aptitude to represent every ridiculous object they behold.

This proneness to imitation, which is natural to children, is the source
of infinite mischief when they are delivered up to improper people who
are hardly able to restrain themselves before them. But providence has
ordained this imitative power, that children may be also capable of
applying themselves to what is good and virtuous. Often, without
speaking to them, we have only to _shew_ them in others what we would
have them do themselves.


_Indirect Instructions: we should not be too urgent with Children._

I think we should often make use of _indirect_ instructions, which are
not so tedious and uninteresting as lessons and remonstrances, in order
to excite their attention to certain examples which are placed before

A person may sometimes ask another, in their presence, "Why do you
do so"--and the other may answer--"I do it for such a reason." For
example--"Why did you confess your fault?" "Because I should have been
guilty of a much greater one by disavowing it with a lye"--and because
nothing is more praiseworthy than to say frankly, "I am wrong." Then the
first person should commend the one who has thus accused herself--but
care must be taken that all this be done without art or affectation, for
children have much more penetration than we are aware of--and as soon as
they discover any finesse in their teachers, they lose that simplicity
and confidence which is natural to their character.

We have before observed that the brain of children, from being at the
same time moist and warm, produces continual motion. This softness or
pliancy of the brain causes impressions to be easily made, and images
of every sensible object to be vividly and strongly imprinted; hence
we should be anxious to engrave, as it were, on their minds such
characters as are easily formed. But great care must be shewn in the
selection of such objects as we wish to impress: for in so small and
precious a cabinet, none but the most exquisite furniture should be
admitted. Let it be remembered, that at such a tender age, no knowledge
should be engrafted but such as we wish to remain there for life.
The first impressions that are made, when the brain is so soft and
susceptible, are in general the most durable; and in proportion as age
hardens the brain, do such impressions become indelible. Hence it is,
that in old age we remember distinctly the images of youth, however
remote; whereas as age advances we have a fainter recollection of such
things as we progressively behold, because the impression has been made
on the brain when it is gradually hardening, and filled with other

Although we understand how to reason in this manner, we have some
difficulty in acceding to it: and yet we absolutely do make use of this
very mode of reasoning. For instance, do we not say every day, "My
habits are fixed, I am too old to change them, I have been brought up
in this way."--Moreover are we not conscious of a singular pleasure
in recalling to mind the images of youth? are not the strongest
propensities formed at that age? Does not, therefore, all this prove
that the first impressions and first habits are the strongest? If
infancy be the fittest period for engraving such images on the brain,
it must be allowed that it is the least so for the cultivation of
reason. That ductility of the brain which causes impressions to be
easily formed, being united with extreme heat, produces an agitation
which sets all regular application at defiance.

The brain of children may be compared to a lighted wax taper, situated
in a place which is exposed to the wind--its flame is perpetually
flickering. A child asks you a question, and before you can answer, its
eyes are directed towards the cieling: it counts all the figures that
are carved there, or all the bits of glass which compose the window: if
you wish to bring it back to the first subject of discussion, you vex
it as much as if you confined it in prison. Thus great care is required
in managing the organs before they assume a determined inclination:
answer every question promptly, and leave the child to put others as
it pleases. Gratify only the curiosity which it evinces, and lay up in
the memory a mass of sound materials. The time will come, when these
impressions will be regularly arranged, and the brain having more
consistency, the child will reason on the consequences. Nevertheless, be
attentive to correct when the reasoning is fallacious; and to convince
it, without embarrassment, as an opportunity offers, in what a wrong
consequence consists.

Let a child amuse itself freely, and mingle instruction with amusement:
let wisdom be introduced at proper intervals, and under an agreeable
form; and take care not to fatigue it by a precision which is both
formal and injudicious.

If a child entertains sad and dismal notions of virtue, if liberty and
irregularity present themselves in a seducing manner, every thing is
lost, and your labour is in vain. Never suffer it to be flattered by
little contemptible associates, or people without character or worth: we
naturally love the manners and sentiments of those whom we regard; and
the pleasure which is sometimes taken in the company of disreputable
people, begets, by degrees, a love of those pernicious habits which
renders _them_ so truly contemptible.

In order to conciliate children to people of real estimable character,
make them reflect on their excellence and utility, their sincerity,
their modesty, their disinterestedness, their fidelity, their discretion,
but above all their _piety_, which is the foundation of the rest.

If a child has any thing about it revolting or offensive, you must
observe to it that "piety does not produce such defects: when it is
perfect, it destroys, or at least softens them." But, after all, we
must not persist in making children admire certain pious characters
whose exterior deportment is disgusting.

Although you are particularly anxious to regulate your own conduct with
the utmost circumspection and nicety, do not imagine that children will
fancy you faultless: oftentimes your slightest imperfections will be
noticed by them.

St. Austin informs us that he had remarked, from his infancy, the vanity
of his tutors. The best and most politic thing you can do, is, to know
your own faults as completely as a child will know them, and to request
some real friend to warn you of them. The generality of instructors
pardon nothing in a pupil, but every thing in themselves: this excites
an inquisitive and watchful spirit of malignity in such pupils--so that
whenever they detect any fault in their tutor, they are delighted, and
eventually despise him.

Shun this error: do not be afraid to mention the faults which are
visible in your conduct, and which may have escaped you before the
child. If you find her capable of reasoning thereupon, observe that you
set her an example of correcting her faults, by the detection of your
own--by this means, your imperfections will be instrumental in edifying
the child, and encouraging her to correct herself. You will also thereby
avoid the contempt and disgust which your own faults may cause her to
entertain against your person.

Meanwhile, try every method to make those things agreeable which you
exact from a child. Have you any thing crabbed or difficult to propose?
convince her that this pain will be succeeded by pleasure: always shew
the utility which results from your instructions; and make her sensible
of the consequences as affecting mankind, and the different orders of
society. Without this, all study will appear as a dry, barren, and thorny
path. "Of what use," will children sometimes say to themselves, "is it
to learn those things which do not relate to ordinary conversation, and
which have no immediate connection with what we are _obliged_ to do?"

We should therefore give them a reason for every thing we teach--"It is,
we should observe, to enable you one day to do well in the world--it is
to form your judgment, and to make you reason well on all the affairs of
life." We should always represent to them some useful and solid _end_,
which may support them in their application: and never pretend to keep
them in subjection by a crabbed and absolute authority.

In proportion as their reason advances, we should discuss with them on
the necessity of education; not that we should implicitly follow their
thoughts, but profit by them when they discover their real state of
mind: so that we may try their discernment, and make them relish those
things we are anxious for them to learn.

Never assume, without urgent necessity, an austere and imperious
manner, which only causes children to tremble, and savours strongly
of affectation and pedantry in those who govern: children are, for the
greater part, timid and diffident. By such means you shut out all access
to the heart, and deprive them of a confidence, without which no benefit
can be derived from instruction. Make yourself beloved: let them be
free with you, so that they fear nothing in discovering their faults.
In order to attain this, be indulgent to those who do not disguise
themselves before you. Appear neither astonished nor irritated at
their bad propensities: on the contrary, bear with their foibles. This
inconvenience may, however, sometimes arise, that they will be less
intimidated; but, taking all things together, confidence and sincerity
is of far greater utility than a rigorous discipline.

Besides, authority will lose its proper effect, if confidence and
persuasion are not equally strong. Always commence with an open and
candid manner; be cheerful and familiar without vulgarity, which enables
you to see children conduct themselves in a perfectly natural state, and
to know their inmost character. If even you should succeed in all your
plans by the force of authority alone, you will not gain the proper end:
you will disgust them in their search after goodness, of which you ought
solely to endeavour to inspire them with admiration.

If the wisest man has recommended parents to hold the rod continually
over the heads of their children, if he has said that a father who
"spareth his child" will repent it hereafter--it does not follow that
he has censured a mild and lenient mode of education. He only condemns
those weak and inconsiderate parents who flatter the passions of their
children, and who only strive to divert them in their infancy, so that
they are guilty of all sorts of excess. The proper conclusion seems to
be that parents ought to preserve authority sufficient for correction;
for there are some dispositions which require to be subdued by fear
alone; but let it be remembered that this should never be enforced
unless every other expedient has been previously applied.

A child who merely follows the capricious impulse of imagination, and
who confounds every thing which presents itself to her mind, detests
application and virtue, because she has taken a prejudice against the
person who speaks to her concerning them.

Hence arises that dismal and frightful idea of religion, which she
preserves all her life: and which, alas! is often the only wretched
remnant of a severe system of education. We must frequently tolerate
many things which are deserving of immediate punishment, and wait for
the opportunity when the feelings of a child dispose it to profit by

Never rebuke a child in the first moments of passion, whether on your
side or hers. If on yours, she will perceive that, you conduct yourself
according to caprice and resentment, and not according to reason and
affection: you will, in consequence, irretrievably lose your authority.
If you correct in the first gust of her passion, her mind is not
sufficiently collected to confess her fault, to conquer her feelings,
and to acknowledge the importance of your advice: such a mode may even
hazard your pupil's respect for you. Always let the child see you are
mistress of your own feelings; and nothing can effect this so much
as _patience_. Watch every moment, each day, when correction may be
well-timed. Never tell her of a fault, without, at the same time,
suggesting some mode of redressing it, which will induce her to put it
in practice; for nothing is more to be avoided than that chagrin and
discouragement which are the consequence of mere formal correction. If a
child is discovered to be a little rational, I think you should win it
insensibly to _wish_ to have its faults disclosed, as this would be the
way of making it sensible of them, without causing affliction: never,
however, recount too many faults at a time.

We should consider that children have a tender intellect, that their
age makes them susceptible chiefly of pleasure, and that we often
expect from them a correctness and seriousness of deportment, which
their instructors are sometimes incapable of evincing. A very dangerous
impression of _ennui_ and sadness is produced on their mind, by
perpetually talking to them of words and things which they do not
understand: no liberty, no amusement! always lesson, silence,
constraint, correction, and threats!

Our ancient forefathers knew better. It was by the charm of verses and
music that the Hebrews, Egyptians, and Greeks, introduced the principal
sciences, the maxims of virtue, and the politeness of manners. Without
reading, people scarcely believe these things, so distant are they from
present custom! nevertheless, little as history is known, there is
not a doubt but that this was the common practice for many centuries.
However, let us so far correct our own age, as to unite the agreeable
and the useful together, as much as lay in our power.

But although we can hardly hope to lay aside _awe_ with the generality
of children, whose dispositions are headstrong and untractable, we
should, nevertheless, not have recourse to it without having patiently
tried every other experiment. We should even make them distinctly
understand the extent of our demands, allowing a certain medium with
which we should be satisfied: for good-humour and confidence should be
their natural disposition--otherwise we damp their spirit, and daunt
their courage: if they are lively, we irritate; if dull, we stupify
them.--Fear may be compared to violent remedies employed in extreme
cases--they purge, but they alter the temperament, and reduce the organs
to extremity. A mind governed by fear, is generally the weaker for it.

We should not always menace without chastising, for fear of rendering
menace of no avail; but we should menace more frequently than we
chastise. As to chastisement, the pain inflicted ought to be as slight
as possible--but accompanied with every circumstance which can prick the
child with shame and remorse. For example, shew her every thing you
have done to avoid coming to this unpleasant extremity--appear to be
even affected at it--speak to her, in the presence of others, of the
melancholy state of those whose want of reason and good conduct have
forced correction upon them; and keep back the ordinary marks of
reconciliation, till you see she stands in need of consolation. This
chastisement may be either public or private, as it may benefit the
child--either in covering her with shame, or shewing her how she has
been spared such a mortification--a _public_ exposition should, however,
never be resorted to but in the last extremity. It may be as well
sometimes to make use of a rational person to perform the office of
mediator--who might console the child, and mention such things which
would be improper for yourself to do--who might cure her of false
shame, and induce her to come to you for reconciliation--and to whom the
child, in the emotions of her heart, would open herself more freely than
she would dare to do to yourself. Above all, let it be manifest that you
never exact from a child more than necessary submission: endeavour to
effect it so that she may pass her own condemnation, and that you have
little else to do but assuage the anguish she has herself inflicted.
General rules ought to be adopted as particular occasions may justify:
men, and especially children, do not always resemble themselves--that
which is good to-day, may be bad to-morrow; a conduct stubbornly uniform
can never be advantageous.

The fewer formal lessons that are inculcated, the better. A thousand
modes of instruction may be adopted in the freedom of conversation,
more useful than lessons themselves. I have known many children who
have learnt to read during their play; we need only relate to them some
diverting story from a book opened in their presence, and make them
insensibly become acquainted with their letters; after this, they will
themselves be anxious to arrive at the source which has afforded them
such amusement.

There are two circumstances which spoil every thing; namely, teaching
them at first to read in a foreign tongue[3]--which takes away all
pleasure in reading; and making them read with a forced and ridiculous
emphasis. Give them a book handsomely bound, with neat cuts, and printed
with a fine type; every thing which delights the fancy, facilitates
study: we should even let them have a book full of short and marvellous
stories. After this, do not be uneasy about the child's learning to
read--do not fatigue her by requiring too great a precision; let her
pronounce naturally as she speaks: other tones are always bad, and
partake of the declamation of the stage. When the tongue has acquired
sufficient volubility, the chest strength, and the habit of reading been
confirmed, she will then read without pain, and with more grace and

 [3] Fenelon says the _Latin_ tongue: but this is not practised in

The manner of teaching to write should be pretty nearly the same. When
children can read a little, one may amuse them in making them sort the
letters; and if there are several pupils, emulation may be kindled.
Children are naturally inclined to make figures on paper; and if this
propensity be encouraged, without teasing them too much, they will form
letters during their play, and accustom themselves by degrees to write.
One may also encourage them by the promise of a reward adapted to their
taste, and which has no unpleasant consequences.

"Write me a note," you may say, "inform your brother or cousin of
such and such things:" all this (varied as you like) pleases a
child, provided that no sad idea of a formal lesson intrude. "A free
curiosity," says St. Austin, from his own experience, "excites the
mental faculties of a child, much more than the formality of rules,
or a constraint imposed by fear."

Observe this grand defect in ordinary educations--all pleasure is placed
on one side, and pain on the other: the latter is attached to study, the
former to play. What then can be expected from a child, but that, in
supporting one of these maxims, she will eagerly fly to her amusements?

Let us try to invert this order: let us make study agreeable, concealing
it under the form of liberty and pleasure: the dull routine of continued
application may be sometimes broken in upon by little sallies of
amusement. Children require these relaxations to preserve the elasticity
of their mind.

Let their imaginations roam a little. Permit occasionally some game or
diversion, so that ample bounds be given to their spirits; then bring
them gently back again to the principal object you have in view. Too
rigid or too long continued an application to study, is productive
of much injury: those who affect this regularity, act more from the
convenience of stated hours of discipline, than from wishing to seize
every favourable moment of instruction. At the same time, do not
suffer any amusement which may agitate the passions of children: on
the contrary, every thing which can unbend their faculties, produce an
agreeable variety, satisfy a curiosity for useful things, and exercise
their body in healthful recreations, should be recommended and practiced
in their diversions. The amusements which they like best, are those
that keep the body in motion; they are happy if they can but skip from
place to place: a shuttle-cock or a ball is sufficient. We should not,
however, be uneasy about their diversions; they invent quite enough
themselves--it is sufficient if we leave them to their own inventions,
watch them with a cheerful countenance, and moderate them when they
become too violent. It would be prudent just to make them sensible, as
much and as often as we can, of the pleasure which results from the
cultivation of the _mind_; such as conversation, news, histories, and
many industrious games which include instruction. All this will have
its proper effect in due time: but we should not force the feelings of
children on this subject; we should only make overtures to them. The
period will arrive when their bodies will be inclined to move less, and
their minds, more.

The care which is taken to season study with amusement, will operate
favourably in abating the ardour of youth for dangerous diversions. It
is subjection and _ennui_ that beget an impatience for amusement. If a
daughter felt less restraint in the presence of a mother, she would not
be so anxious to steal away in search of indifferent society.

In choosing diversions, care must be taken to avoid all suspicious
companions. Boys must not mingle with girls; even girls of an unruly
and froward disposition must be rejected. Games which excite passion,
and thoughtlessness, or which produce an improper attitude of the
body--frequent visiting abroad, and conversations which give rise to
such visits--should be uniformly avoided. When a child is not spoilt
by any rude diversion, or is not stimulated by any ardent passion, it
will easily find pleasure and content: health and innocence are the
sure sources of both: but those who have been accustomed to violent
amusements, lose all relish for moderate pleasure, and weary themselves
in a restless search after happiness.

There may be a satiated taste for amusements, as well as for food: one
may be so accustomed to high-seasoned dishes, that a simple and common
diet will become flat and insipid. Let us, therefore, be on our guard
against those violent exercises, which in the end produce _ennui_ and
disgust: above all, they are to be particularly dreaded in regard to
_children_; who are less capable in suppressing their feelings, and
who wish to be in perpetual motion. Let us manage them so as to excite
a taste for simple things: that great preparations of food be not
necessary for their nourishment, nor violent diversions for their
amusement. A moderate fare always creates a sufficient appetite,
without being obliged to pamper it with _made dishes_, which produce
intemperance. "Temperance," says an ancient writer, "is the best
contriver of luxury: with this temperance, which begets health of body
and mind, one always enjoys a soft and tranquil emotion--there is no
need of trick or public shew, or expense, to make one happy: some little
diversion, or reading, or labor--a walk, or innocent conversation, which
relaxes after toil--all or any of these produce a purer delight than is
felt from the most exquisite music."

It is true, simple pleasures are less lively and interesting than
violent ones, which elevate the soul, and affect all the sources of
passion. But simple pleasures have a better tendency; they produce an
equal and lasting joy, without any bitter consequence. They are always
of real service, whereas violent ones may be compared to adulterated
wine, which pleases at first, but which eventually injures the health.
The very temperament of the soul, as well as the taste, is affected by
seeking after such violent and seductive pleasures. All that you can do
for children who are under your regulation is, to accustom them to such
a simple life as has been just described; to fortify them in such habits
as long as you can, to make them foresee the evil consequences attached
to other amusements, and not to abandon them to _themselves_; as is too
commonly the case, at an age when their passions begin to be shewn, and
when, consequently, they stand in need of greater restraint.

It must be allowed, that of all the vexations incidental to education,
none can be compared with that which is experienced in the rearing of
a _stupid_ child. Those who have strong lively natural capacities are,
indeed, liable to terrible irregularities--passion and presumption
master them entirely; but, on the other hand, they have great resources,
and may be easily checked, however turbulent. Education is, in them,
a concealed but vegetating germe, which sometimes bears fruit when
experience comes to the aid of reason, and when the passions begin to
cool. At least we know how to make them attentive, and awaken their
curiosity: they have something in them which makes them take an interest
in their lessons, and stimulates their sense of honour--whereas one has
no sort of pleasure or gratification in the instruction of _stupid_
children. All their thoughts are distracted: they are never where they
ought to be: the most poignant correction has no effect on them: they
hear every thing, and feel nothing. This indolence and stupidity makes
a child negligent and disgusted with every thing she does. She is
in such a case, that the _best mode_ of education runs a risk of
miscarrying, if we do not guard against the evil, from earliest infancy.
Many people who have little depth of penetration, conclude, from this
bad success, that nature does _every thing_ in the formation of men of
merit, and education _nothing_--instead of remarking that there are
dispositions, like barren soils, on which cultivation produces little.
It is yet more lamentable when these knotty systems of education have
been thwarted or neglected, or badly regulated at the beginning.

We must not forget that there are many dispositions among children, in
which we are likely to be deceived. They appear at first interesting,
because there is attached to early youth a certain fascinating lustre
which covers every thing: we, at first, perceive nothing but what is
tender and amiable, and this prevents a closer examination of the
features of the mind. Every sally of their wit surprises us, because we
do not expect it at such an age: every error in judgment is permitted,
and it has, moreover, the charm of ingenuity: they assume a certain
vivacity of deportment, which never fails to pass for sprightliness and
intellect. Hence it is, that childhood often promises much, but realises
little. Such a one was celebrated for her wit at five years of age, but
now, in proportion to her growth, she has fallen into obscurity and
contempt! Of all the qualities which children possess, there is but
one on which you can calculate with certainty, and that is, _good
sense_: this "grows with their growth," provided it be well cultivated.
The graces of infancy fade away--its vivacity diminishes--and that
tenderness of heart even becomes blunted, in proportion as the passions
and an intercourse with designing men harden young people on their
entrance into the world. Strive, therefore, to discover midst the graces
of childhood, whether the disposition you have to manage be deficient
in curiosity, and insensible of honest emulation. If this should be the
case, it is almost impossible for every one concerned in her tuition,
not to be disgusted with so rugged and ungrateful an occupation. Every
qualification of a child should be roused and brought into action, in
order to extricate it from so fatal a lethargy. If, however, you foresee
any such consequences about to follow, do not at first be anxious to
urge any serious application: take care not to overcharge her memory,
for it is that which stuns and stupifies the brain: do not harass her
with unpleasant regulations: make her as cheerful as you can, because
she labours under the opposite extreme of presumption: do not be afraid
of shewing her, with discretion, the extent of her powers: be satisfied
with little at a time: make her remark the smallest success: shew her
how absurd it is to be afraid of not succeeding in that which she really
does well: set her emulation to work. Jealousy is more violent among
children than we are aware of: we often see some who are absolutely
fretting and wearing away, because others are more beloved and caressed
than themselves. Mothers are often cruel enough to fan this jealous
flame, which, however, is of service in extreme cases of indolence and
stupidity--but then you should set before the child the examples of
those who are but _very little_ superior--for disproportionate examples
of those who are greatly superior, serve only to discourage and dismay.

Let her, occasionally, gain some little victories over those of whom
she is jealous: make her, if you can, laugh heartily with yourself at
her timidity: and set before her those, equally timid with herself, who
have conquered their disposition to fear: make her sensible, by indirect
instructions, and the example of others, that timidity and idleness
destroy all the mental energies; but be careful not to give these
instructions in an austere and impetuous manner: nothing wounds the
inmost feelings of a mild and timid child so much as boisterous
treatment: on the contrary, let the application which becomes
indispensible, be seasoned and relieved by such little circumstances of
amusement and recreation as are suited to her disposition. Perhaps it
will be sometimes necessary to check her by reproaches; but this should
not be done by yourself: employ some inferior person, or another child,
without appearing yourself to be acquainted with it.

St. Austin relates, that his mother was once reproached by a servant
for drinking pure wine; an ill habit which she had contracted from her
infancy, and of which she was cured by the servant's reproach, though
all the vehemence and severity of her governess was unable to effect it.
In short one should endeavour to excite _a taste_ in the minds of such
sort of children, in like manner as one tries to excite it in the palate
of those who are sick. _They_ are permitted to have any thing which may
cure their loathing; they are indulged in many whims at the expence of
certain prescribed rules, provided it be not carried to a dangerous
excess. It is much more arduous to create a taste in those that are
void of one, than to regulate the taste of those who have not a correct

There is another kind of sensibility extremely difficult and important
to impress them with, and that is, _friendship_. As soon as a child is
susceptible of it, there can be no doubt but that you should turn her
heart towards those who may be useful to her. Friendship will give her
every accomplishment that you desire; you have then a certain tie on
her, if you know how to regulate it: excess, or a bad choice, are the
only things you have to dread. There are, however, some children who are
born cunning, reserved, and callous, and who bring every thing home, as
it were, to their own bosoms: they deceive their parents, whom fondness
has made credulous: they _appear_ to love them: they regulate their
inclinations to conform to them: they _seem_ more docile than other
children of the same age, who indulge, without restraint, in all their
humours and follies: their suppleness, or rather hypocrisy, which
conceals a savage temper, assumes a softness of character; and their
real disposition does not discover itself till it is too late to reform

If there really be any child on whom education is incapable of producing
a good effect, it is one of the foregoing description; and it must
be allowed that the number is greater than we imagine. Parents bring
themselves with difficulty to believe that their children have a bad
heart: when they shut their _own eyes_ upon them, no other person will
have the courage to convince them of it; and thus the evil is hourly
augmenting. The principal remedy is, to place children, from their
earliest infancy, in such a situation where their tempers may be
discovered without disguise. Always know the very bottom of their heart,
before you correct them. They are naturally simple and open; but as soon
as you plague them, or give them an example of disguise, they will no
longer return to their original simplicity. It is true, that a good
and tender-hearted disposition comes from God alone; _we_ can only
endeavour to excite it by generous examples, by maxims of honour and
disinterestedness, and by a contempt of those people who set too high a
value on themselves. We must endeavour to make children betimes sensible
of the most natural modes of conduct, and of the pleasure arising from
a cordial, and reciprocal friendship. Nothing so much conduces to this
end, as an intercourse with people who have nothing about them harsh,
severe, low, or selfish: children might better associate with those who
have other faults, than with those who possess the foregoing ones. We
should praise them for every thing they do on the score of friendship,
provided it be not misplaced or too violent. Parents must likewise
appear to them to be animated with the sincerest friendship towards
them; for children oftentimes learn of their parents to have no
affection for any one object. In short I would check, before friends,
all superfluous compliments, all artificial demonstrations of esteem,
and all feigned caresses: for by these things you teach them a great
deal of deceit towards those whom they ought to regard.

There is a very common fault among girls, the opposite to what we have
been mentioning; namely, the affecting to be uncommonly struck and
delighted with the most insignificant things. They cannot see two people
who are both equally bad, without taking the part, in their hearts, of
one against the other. They are full either of affection or aversion,
without the least cause: they perceive no defect in what they esteem,
and no one good quality in what they despise. You must not, at first,
make a formidable opposition to all this--for contradiction will only
fortify them in their vagaries: but observe, by degrees, to a young
girl, that you know better than herself what good there is in that
which she likes, and what evil in that which she detests. Take care
also, occasionally, to make her sensible of certain defects which are
sometimes found in the object of her regard, and of certain good
qualities which are discernible in that of her hatred: do not be too
urgent: press her not too much, and you will find that she will come
to herself, and coincide with your sentiments. After which, make her
reflect on her past caprices, and the most unreasonable circumstances
attending them: tell her, gently, that she will by and bye see those
of which she is not yet cured, when they cease to act. Recount to her
similar errors of _your own_ when you was of her age. Above all, shew
her as clearly, and as sensibly as you can, that good and evil are
inherent in every object of our love and aversion: this will repress
her ardour in the indulgence of either the one or the other.

Never promise children, by way of reward, fine clothes or dainties; this
has two direct evils attending it: the first will teach them to set
a value on what they ought to despise; the second deprives you of an
opportunity of establishing _other_ rewards which would facilitate your
labour. Be on your guard against threatening them to make them study, or
subjecting them to any formal rule. Make as few rules as possible: and
when there is an absolute necessity for one, make it pass lightly under
the child's notice, without giving it such a name; and always give some
reason why a thing is done at one time and in one place, rather than
in another. You run a risk of disheartening children if they are not
praised when they have done well. Praise may sometimes be apprehended on
account of its exciting vanity; but it should nevertheless be employed
to animate, not to intoxicate, children.

We find that St. Paul has often made use of it, in encouraging the weak,
and in softening his reproaches. The Fathers have also made the same use
of it. It is true, that to make it serviceable, it must be so tempered
that it take away all exaggeration, and flattery, and that the good
resulting from it be attributed to God alone, as the source. Children
may be recompensed by innocent and industrious games; by walks and
recreations, in which conversation may take a useful turn: by little
presents which may be a kind of prize--as pictures, prints, medals, maps
of geography, or gilt books.


_Of the Use of History for Children._

Children are passionately fond of marvellous tales: one sees them every
day transported with joy, or drowned in tears, at the recital of certain
adventures. Do not fail to profit by this propensity. When you find them
disposed to listen to you, relate to them some short and pretty fable:
but choose some ingenious and harmless one respecting animals: repeat
them just as they are composed, and shew them the moral resulting
therefrom. As to _pagan fables_, a girl will be happy in her total
ignorance of them, as they are extremely indelicate and replete with
impious absurdities. If, however, you are not able to keep a child
ignorant of them, impress her with a sense of their horror. When you
have repeated one fable, wait till you are asked to begin another--thus
leaving the child hungry, as it were, for more mental food. When
curiosity is at last excited, recount certain choice histories, but in
as few words as possible: connect them together, and postpone the sequel
from one day to another, so that you keep the children in suspense, and
impatient to know the termination. Be animated and familiar in your
manner of repeating--make the personages speak--and children, who have
a lively imagination, will fancy they hear and see them. For instance,
relate the history of Joseph--make his brothers speak like brutal
characters, but Jacob like a tender and afflicted father--then let
Joseph himself speak--taking pleasure, as being at the head of an
Egyptian establishment, in concealing himself from his brothers--in
making them afraid of him; and, at last, in discovering himself to them.
This natural representation, joined to the extraordinary circumstances
of the history, will delight a child; provided she be not teased with
too many similar recitals. You may let her express a desire for such
stories, and promise them as a recompense for a prudent conduct,
provided they assume not the form of study--provided the child is not
_obliged_ to repeat them; for these repetitions, if not voluntarily
undertaken, will discompose and fret her, and take away all pleasure
arising from such sort of narrations.

It must be observed that if a child has any facility in speaking, she
will, of her own accord, relate to those whom she likes, such histories
as have pleased her most: but do not let her make a rule of it. You may
employ some one, who is on a footing of perfect intimacy with the child,
to appear anxious to learn of her a particular story: the child will
be delighted in repeating it. Do not appear yourself to listen very
earnestly to it--let her go on as she likes, without checking her in
her faults. The consequence will be, that when she is more accustomed
to repeat, you may gently make her sensible of a better manner of
narrating, by rendering it short, simple, and easy; and by a choice of
circumstances better calculated to represent forcibly the nature of
each thing. If you have many children, accustom them by degrees to
_represent_ the historical characters whom they read of--one may be
Abraham, the other, Isaac. These representations will charm them more
than any other games--will accustom them to think, and to utter serious
things with pleasure--and will indelibly fix such histories on their

We should strive to give them a taste for scriptural history rather than
for any other; not in _telling_ them that it is finer, which they will
probably not believe--but in causing them to _feel_ it to be so. Make
them observe how important, wonderful, and curious those histories are:
how full of natural representation, and a spirit of noble simplicity.
Those of the creation, the fall of Adam, the deluge, the call of
Abraham, the sacrifice of Isaac, the adventures of Joseph (which have
been briefly discussed), and the birth and flight of Moses, are not only
calculated to awaken the curiosity of children, but in discovering to
them the origin of religion, fix the foundations of it in their bosoms.
We must be strangely ignorant of the essential parts of religion not to
observe that they are chiefly historical: it is by a tissue, as it were,
of marvellous facts that we discover its establishment, its perpetuity,
and all that can induce us to believe and to practice it. It is not to
be supposed that by all this we wish children to be plunged into profound
knowledge--on the contrary, these histories are short, various, and
calculated to please the meanest capacity. The Almighty, who best knows
the faculties of that being whom he has created, has clothed religion in
_popular facts_, which, far from overpowering the simple, assists them
in conceiving and retaining its mysteries. For example, tell a child,
that in God there are three equal persons, but of one nature: by the
habit of hearing and repeating these terms, she may retain them in her
memory; but I doubt whether she will understand the sense of them.
Relate to her that as Jesus Christ went up out of the waters of Jordan,
the Almighty caused these words to be heard--"This is my beloved son in
whom I am well pleased--hear him:" add, that the Holy Ghost descended
on our Saviour, in the form of a dove--and thus, you make her sensible
of the TRINITY, in a history which she will never forget. Here are
_three persons_ which she will distinguish by the difference of their
actions; you have nothing more, therefore, but to inform her that all
these together make but one God. This example is sufficient to shew the
use of history. Although it may _seem_ to make instruction more tedious,
it really abridges it; and renders the dryness of catechism, where
mysteries are detached from facts, unnecessary. We may observe that
history was an ancient mode of instruction. The admirable method which
St. Austin has pointed out for the instruction of the ignorant, was
not suggested by that father alone--it was the universal method and
practice of the church: it consisted in shewing, by a succession of
historical facts, religion to be as ancient as the world--Jesus Christ
conspicuous in the Old Testament, and pervading every part of the New:
which, in truth, is the foundation of christian instruction.

All this demands a little more time and care than are devoted to the
usual habits of instruction with which many people content themselves:
but in adopting such a mode, religion will be truly taught; whereas,
when children are not so instructed, they have only confused ideas of
Jesus Christ, the Gospel, the church, of the necessity of absolute
submission to its decrees, and of the foundation of those virtues
with which the christian character should inspire us. The _historical_
catechism, which is simple, short, and more perspicuous than the
ordinary catechism, includes every thing necessary to be known
thereupon--so that it need not be said that much study is necessary.[4]

 [4] I have omitted the remark which here follows--because it alludes
 to the catechism of the _Council of Trent_, with which we have
 nothing to do in this country.

Let us now add to the facts before mentioned from scripture, the passage
of the Red Sea, and the sojourning of the people in the desert--where
they ate bread which fell from heaven, and drank water which Moses
caused to flow from the rock, by striking it with his rod. Represent the
miraculous conquest of the promised land, where the waters of Jordan
went backwards toward their source, and the walls of a city fell down
of themselves in the sight of the besiegers. Describe, in as natural
colours as possible, the combats of Saul and David: and how the latter,
a youth, without arms and habited like a shepherd, became the conqueror
of the fierce and gigantic Goliah. Do not forget the glory and wisdom of
Solomon: how he decided between the two women who disputed about a
child--but do not forget to impress on the mind, how he fell from this
height of wisdom; dishonouring himself by an effeminacy, which is almost
the inevitable consequence of overgrown prosperity.

Next make the prophets, as delegated from heaven, converse with kings:
shew how they read the future as if in a book: how they suffered
continual persecution for having spoken the truth. Speak, in
succession, of the first destruction of Jerusalem--represent the temple
burning, and the holy city in ruins on account of the sins of the
people. Relate the Babylonian captivity, and how the Jews wept "when
they thought on Sion." Before their return, represent the interesting
adventures of Tobit, Judith, Esther, and Daniel. It may not be amiss to
let children give their opinion on the different characters of these
holy persons, to know which of them they admire the most. One will
prefer Esther, the other Judith--and this may excite a little
controversy between them, which will impress those histories more
strongly on their minds, and form their judgments thereupon. Afterwards,
bring back the Jews from captivity to Jerusalem, and make them repair
their desolated city; then paint, in smiling colours, the peace and
happiness which succeeded. Shortly you will have to draw a picture of
the cruel Antiochus, who died in false repentance: describe, under this
persecutor, the victories of the Maccabees, and the martyrdom of the
seven brothers of that name.

Descend regularly to the miraculous birth of St. John: and relate, more
in detail, that of our Saviour Jesus Christ: after which you must select
in the four Gospels all the remarkable occurrences of his life--his
preaching in the temple at twelve years of age--his baptism--his retreat
and temptation in the desert--the calling of the apostles--the miracle
of the loaves--the conversion of the sinful woman, who anointed the
feet of our Saviour with a precious perfume--washed them with her tears,
and dried them with her hair. Represent the Samaritan woman instructed;
Lazarus restored to life; and Christ's triumphant entry into Jerusalem.
Next describe his passion, and his resurrection from the tomb.
Afterwards make them remark the familiarity with which he continued
forty days with his disciples, until they saw him ascend into heaven.
Next will follow the descent of the Holy Ghost; the stoning of Stephen;
the conversion of St. Paul; and the calling of the centurion Cornelius:
the voyages of the apostles, and particularly of St. Paul, are _yet_
extremely interesting. Select the most wonderful histories of the
martyrs, and give a general outline of the celestial life of the first
christians: mingle with it the courage of young virgins, the astonishing
austerity of those who led a solitary life, the conversion of emperors
and of the empire, the blindness of the Jews, and the punishment which
yet awaits them.

All these histories (managed with discretion) of the whole series of
religion, from the creation to the present time, would make an agreeable
impression on the lively and tender minds of children; and would fill
them with such noble ideas of it as would never be forgotten. They would
even see, in this narration, the hand of God always lifted up to protect
the good, and to punish the wicked. They would accustom themselves
to behold the Almighty, working all in all, secretly directing the
movement of creatures however remote from himself. But care must be
taken to select such passages in these histories as afford the most
beautiful and magnificent images; for every faculty must be employed to
shew religion to children adorned with every thing amiable, pleasing,
and august; and not to represent it, as is too commonly the case, as
something sad and disagreeable.

Besides the inestimable advantage of teaching religion in this manner to
children--such a series of pleasant histories, which they learn betimes
to remember, awakens their curiosity for serious things; makes them
sensible of the pleasures of the mind, and excites an interest in the
hearing of _other_ histories which have some connection with those they
already know. But again I repeat, never make a _rigid law_ that they
should hear and retain these things--much less let them be inculcated as
_regular lessons_: for the pleasure which they take in such recitals
should be _voluntary_, and without this, nothing important can be
effected. Do not urge them much--you will attain the desired end, even
with ordinary understandings:[5] you have nothing to do but exercise
their capacities _moderately_, and let their curiosity be excited, by
degrees. But you will say, how are those histories to be repeated in a
lively, short, natural, and agreeable manner? Where are the teachers
who can accomplish such a thing? To this I answer, that I propose it
only that you should _endeavour_ to choose persons of an excellent
understanding to govern your children, and that they be gifted, as
much as possible, with this method of teaching: every governess will
undertake it in proportion to her talents. But if there be only a
candour and openness of intellect, the thing will go on with good effect
when children are formed to this manner, which is natural and simple.

 [5] I may be permitted to add, that if children do not discover any
 propensity to these studies, we should neither neglect nor despise
 them; provided their dispositions and conduct be good and regular in
 other matters. Besides, nothing conclusive can, at first, be drawn
 from their inattention to these subjects; for a child at _twelve_
 years of age may evince as great a _regard_ for them, as she did
 _indifference_, at _ten_. There is little consistency in the human
 intellect at such a volatile period: the girl of gaity and
 dissipation at _eighteen_, may become the devotee at _five and

To discourse or description, may be added the sight of _pictures_, which
represent sacred subjects. Prints will be sufficient, which may be
preserved for ordinary use--but when an opportunity offers of shewing
a child _good paintings_, it must not be neglected: for the force of
colouring, and the grandeur of composition, will strike the imagination
with greater effect.


_Of Inculcating Principles of Religion in the Minds of Children._

It has been before observed that the first years of childhood are not
calculated for reasoning: not that children are divested of those ideas
and general principles of reason which hereafter become manifest, but
that they are ignorant of many facts, which hinders the application of
their reason; and, moreover, leaves that agitation of the brain, which
prevents them from connecting their ideas.

We should, however, without pressing them, gently direct the use of
their reason towards a knowledge of God. Persuade them of Christian
truths, without giving them subjects of doubt. They observe some one to
be dead: they know that burial afterwards follows: say to them--"Is
this dead person in the tomb?" "_Yes._" "He is not then in paradise?"
"_Pardon me, he is._" "How can he be in the grave and in paradise at the
same time?" "_It is his soul which is in paradise--his body only in the
grave._" "His soul and body then are not the same thing?" "_No._" "The
soul, therefore, is not dead?" "_No--It will live for ever in heaven._"
Add: "And you, do you wish to be saved?" "_Yes._" "But what is being
saved?" "_It is the soul's going into paradise._" "And what is death?"
"_It is the mouldering of the body into dust, when the soul has left

I do not pretend to say that children may _at first_ be taught to answer
in this manner: though I may add that many have given me such answers
when they were four years of age. Let us, however, suppose a child to be
extremely reserved and uninstructed:--the worst that can happen is, the
waiting only a few more years with patience.

Shew children a house, and make them comprehend that this house did not
build itself. The stones or bricks, say you, were not elevated without
some one's carrying them so high. It may be as well, too, to shew them
the masons at work: then make them contemplate heaven and earth, and the
principal things which God has made for the use of man: say to them "how
much more beautiful and better made is the world than a house! Was it
made of itself? No--assuredly it was made by the hands of the Almighty."

First follow the method of scripture. Strike their imaginations in as
lively a manner as possible--propose to them nothing which may not be
clothed with sensible images. Represent God as seated on a throne--with
eyes more brilliant than the rays of the sun, and more piercing than the
lightning--represent him with ears that hear every thing; with hands
that support the universe; with arms always stretched out to punish the
wicked; and with a tender and paternal heart to make those happy who
love him. The time will come when this information may be rendered more
exact. Observe every opening of the mind which a child presents to you:
try her by different methods, so that you may discover how these great
truths will best occupy her attention. Above all, talk of nothing new,
without familiarising her to it by some obvious comparison.

For example--ask her if she would rather die than renounce Jesus
Christ--she will answer--_Yes_. Then say--"how, would you suffer your
head to be cut off in order to enter paradise?" _Yes._ The child will
now think she has sufficient courage to do it. But you, who are willing
to make her sensible that nothing can be effected without _grace_,
will gain nothing, if you merely say that grace alone is sufficient to
produce faithfulness--the child does not understand those words; and if
you accustom her to repeat them without understanding them, you gain
nothing by it. What then is to be done? Relate to her the history of St.
Peter: represent him saying, in a presumptuous tone of voice--"I will
follow thee even unto death, though all the rest should desert thee,
yet will I never abandon thee." Then describe his fall: he denies his
master, Christ, three times--even a servant makes him tremble. Declare
why God permitted this weakness--then make use of the comparison of a
child or sick person who cannot walk alone--and make her comprehend,
that as an infant must be supported in the arms of its nurse, so we
stand in need of the Almighty's assistance. Thus you will make her
sensible of the mystery of grace.

But the most difficult truth for a child to comprehend is, that we have
a soul more precious than our body. Children are at first accustomed to
talk about the soul; and the custom is advantageous--for this language,
which they do not understand, is perpetually exciting them to have a
(confused) notion of the distinction of body and soul, until they are
able really to conceive it. In proportion as early prejudices are
pernicious when they lead to error, so are they useful when they conduct
the imagination to truth, until reason is gradually directed towards
it by the force of principles. But, at length, we must fix _a true
persuasion_--and how are we to set about it? Is it in plunging a young
girl in philosophical subtleties? Nothing is worse calculated for it.
We must confine ourselves to render clear and distinct to her mind, what
she hears and speaks every day.

As to her _person_, she is perhaps too well instructed in the knowledge
of _that_: every thing induces her to flatter, adorn, and idolise it. An
essential point is gained if you can inspire her with contempt for it,
by observing something of greater value about her.

Say then to a child who is capable of a little reasoning--Is it your
soul that eats? If she answers absurdly, do not be harsh with her--but
tell her mildly that the soul does not eat--It is the body that
eats--the body, which resembles the brutes. Have brutes intellect--are
they learned? _No_, the child will answer. But they eat, you will add,
although they have no intellect: you see, therefore, that it is not the
soul which eats--it is the body which takes food to nourish it--it is
_that_ which walks, and which sleeps. And what does the soul do? It
reasons--it knows every one--it loves certain things, and dislikes
others. Go on, in a playful manner, "Do you know this table?" _Yes._
"You know it then?" _To be sure._ "You see clearly that it is not made
like that chair, which is formed of wood, and not like the chimney
piece, of stone?" _Yes_, the child will reply. Proceed no farther
without being convinced, by her tone of voice, and by the child's eyes,
that these simple truths have struck her. Then say--But does this
table know you? You will see that the child will begin laughing, and
ridiculing, as it were, such a question.--No matter: go on--Which
loves you the best, that table or that chair? She will still keep
laughing--but pursue the discourse--Is the window very wise? Then try
to go further--Does this doll answer you when you speak to it? _No._
Why--has it no intellect? _No, none._ It is not then like you; for you
know it, and it does not know you. But after death, when you will be
under the ground, shall not you be like this doll? _Yes._ You will no
longer feel any thing? _No._ You will no longer know any body? _No._ And
your soul will be in heaven? _Yes._ Will it not then see God? _True, it
will._ And where is the soul of the doll at present? You will perceive
that the child will answer with a laugh--or at least that it will make
you understand the doll has no soul.

Upon this foundation, and by means of these simple illustrations,
enforced at different times, you may accustom the child, by degrees,
to attribute both to the body and the soul, that which is peculiar to
each--provided you do not indiscreetly propose to her consideration,
certain actions which are common to the one and the other. All subtilty
must be avoided, as it perplexes truth; and we must content ourselves
to point out, with care and correctness, those circumstances that mark
distinctly the difference between the body and soul. Sometimes one meets
with such stupid characters, whom even the help of a good education will
not assist in the comprehension of these truths: however, they may be
sometimes clearly _conceived_, without being perspicuously expressed.
God sees better than we do into the spirit of man, what is there placed
for the knowledge of his mysteries.

With respect to those children in whom we discover a mind capable of
further researches, one may, without throwing them into a study which
savours too much of philosophy, make them conceive, according to their
inclination, what is meant when it is said that God is a spirit, and
that the soul is also a spirit. I think that the best and most simple
method of making them conceive this spirituality of God and of the soul,
is, to make them remark the difference between a dead and living man: in
the one, there is nothing but a body; in the other, the soul is united
with the body. Afterwards you may shew them that that which is capable
of reasoning, is more perfect than that which has mere form and motion.
Then illustrate, by various examples, that no body perishes--that it
is only separated: thus, pieces of burnt wood fall into charcoal, or
evaporate in smoke. If then, you will add, that which is of itself only
charcoal (incapable of knowing and thinking) perishes not--how much more
shall the soul, which is capable of both knowledge and thought, endure
for ever! The body may die--that is to say, may quit the soul and shrink
into dust--but the soul will live; for it will always have the faculty
of thinking.

Those who instruct children, should develop, as much as possible, these
truths, which are the foundation of all religion. But if success should
not crown their exertions, especially with dull obstinate children,
let them hope that God will enlighten internally. There is, however,
a sensible and practical way of confirming this knowledge of the
distinction between body and soul--and that is, accustom children to
despise the one, and regard the other, throughout their manners and
intercourse with the world. Praise that instruction which nourishes the
soul and causes it to expand: esteem those great truths which animate it
to become wise and virtuous. Despise luxury of diet and dress, and every
thing which enervates the body: make them sensible how much honour, a
good conscience, and religion, are above these sensual pleasures. By
the force of such sentiments, without reasoning upon the body and the
soul, the ancient Romans taught their children to despise the body, and
to sacrifise it to every thing which could inspire their minds with the
pleasure of virtue and glory. With them, it was not simply persons of
high birth, it was the entire mass of the people who lived temperately,
disinterestedly, despising life, and sensible only of honour and wisdom,
which excited their applause or imitation. When I speak of the ancient
Romans, I mean those who lived before the extension of their empire had
corrupted their simplicity of manners.

Let it not be said that children are incapable of receiving these
prejudices from education. How often do we discover certain maxims which
have been established among us, against the impression of our senses, by
the force of custom alone. For instance, that of duelling--founded on
a false principle of honour. It is not by reasoning, but by taking for
granted, without reasoning, the maxim to be established on a principle
of honour, that life is exposed, and that every man who carries a sword
lives in continual danger. Those who have no quarrel may have one every
moment with certain people, who are seeking every pretext to signalize
themselves in some duel. However moderate one may be, such moderation is
hardly preserved, without violating that false honour, which will not
suffer you to avoid a quarrel by an explanation, or to refuse becoming
the second of some one who has an inclination to fight. What authorities
have not failed in eradicating so barbarous a custom! See, therefore,
how powerful are the prejudices of education--But how much more powerful
will they be on the side of virtue, supported by reason, and animated
with the hope of happiness hereafter!

The Romans of whom we have been speaking, and before them the Greeks--in
the good times of their republics, brought up their children in the
contempt of luxury and effeminacy: they taught them to esteem glory--to
be ardent, not to heap up riches, but to conquer those kings who
possessed them--to believe that virtue alone was the road to happiness.
This spirit was so strongly established in the foregoing republics,
that they atchieved incredible things according to those maxims which
were so contrary to the opinions of all other people. The examples of so
many martyrs, and of other primitive christians of all conditions and
ages, demonstrates that the grace of baptism being united with the
help of education, may make impressions still more wonderful among
the faithful, to enable them to despise every thing which is attached
to the body. Seek then for every agreeable circumstance, every
striking comparison, to convince children that our bodies are like the
brutes--our souls like angels. Represent a knight mounted on a horse and
directing its course: and say, that the soul is to the body, what the
horseman is to the horse. Finish your remarks by observing that the
soul is weak and miserable, when abandoned to the direction of the body;
which, like a furious horse, would hurl it down a precipice. Relate,
also, that the beauty of the body, or external person, is like a flower
which blossoms in the morning, and withers and is trod under foot in the
evening--but that the soul is the express image of the immortal beauty
of God. There is, you may add, an order of things much more excellent,
which cannot be seen by the gross eyes of the flesh--whereas every
thing here below is subject to change and corruption. In order to make
children sensible that there are really certain things, which neither
the eyes nor the ears can apprehend, you may ask them whether it is
not true that such a person is wise--and that such an one is witty or
ingenious.--When they have answered _yes_, you may observe--"But have
you _seen_ the wisdom of such a person? Of what colour is it? Have you
_heard_ it? Does it make much noise? Have you _touched_ it? Is it cold
or hot?" The child will laugh: nevertheless put the same questions
relating to wit or ingenuity.--She will appear quite astonished when she
is asked of what colour is wit--whether it is round or square? Then you
may make her remark that she knows there are many things in reality
which she can neither see, touch, nor hear; and that these things are
spiritual. But you must enter with great soberness and caution on these
sort of conversations with girls. I only propose it here for the sake
of those, whose curiosity and reason, will bring you, in spite of
every effort to the contrary, to such questions. You must regulate the
discourse according to the bias of the child's mind, and the necessity
of the case.

Retain their understandings, as much as possible, within common limits:
and teach them that there is a modesty with regard to science, which
belongs to their sex, almost as delicate as that which is inspired by
the horror of vice.

At the same time you must bring imagination to the aid of intellect; to
give them pleasing images of the truths of religion, which the gross
senses of the body are unable to behold. Paint to them the glory of
heaven, such as St. John has represented it!--tears wiped away from
every eye--neither death, disease, nor lamentation--all agonies ceasing,
all evils at an end--eternal joy on the head of the righteous, like the
waters on the head of a man immersed in the sea! Display that glorious
Jerusalem, of which God himself will be the Sun, to create days without
an end--a river of peace, a torrent of delight, a fountain of life,
shall water it--there, every thing shall be gold, pearls, and precious

I am well aware that all these images are attached to things sensible;
but after having animated children with such a beautiful spectacle so as
to rivet their attention, one may adopt the method just recommended to
bring them to spiritual things.

Conclude, that we are, in this world, like travellers in an inn, or
under a tent: that the body is hastening to decay, and that all our
efforts can retard its corruption but a few years: but that the soul
will fly away to that celestial country, where it will live for ever
with God. If children can be brought to contemplate these grand objects
with pleasure, and to judge of the common things of life through the
medium of such high hopes, we shall have accomplished a most important

I would even try to impress them with strong ideas of the _resurrection
of the body_. Teach them that nature is but the common order which God
has established in his works, and that miracles are only exceptions to
this common order; so that it is as easy for the Almighty to work an
hundred miracles, as it is for me to go out of my room a quarter of an
hour before my usual time of departure. Then call to recollection the
history of the resurrection of Lazarus, of Jesus Christ, and of those
apparitions which were recognised for forty days by a great number of
persons. Next, shew that it cannot be difficult for that Being who
created man, to bring him to life after dissolution; and do not forget
the comparison of a grain of corn which is sowed in the earth, and
decays, in order to reproduce and multiply its species.

Moreover, these moral lessons must not be taught children by memory, in
like manner as they are taught the catechism: such a method would have
an immediate tendency to convert religion into an affected language, or
at least into troublesome formalities: only assist their understanding,
and put them in the way of comprehending the foregoing truths on their
proper foundations: they will, in consequence, appear more consistent
and agreeable, and become more vividly impressed on the mind. Take
advantage of every opportunity to make them develop with clearness, what
they at present confusedly behold.

Always bear in mind that nothing will be more dangerous than to speak
to them with contempt of this life, when, by the tenor of your conduct,
they discover that you do not deliver your sentiments with sincerity and
truth. In every period of life, example has an astonishing effect upon
us--in infancy, it is every thing. Children are very fond of imitation;
they have not yet acquired habits which render the imitation of another
difficult--besides, not being of themselves able to judge profoundly
of things, they judge much more from the example of those who propose,
than from the reasons which they adduce in proposing, them. Actions are
much more striking than words: so that if they observe your actions do
not correspond with your precepts, they will be disposed to consider
religion, only as a _specious ceremony_, and virtue as an _impracticable

Never indulge yourself before children, in any railleries about things
which have relation to religion, or on the indiscretion of any pious
persons: you may think all this innocent--you are mistaken--it will
have its certain consequences. Never speak of God, or of what regards
the worship of him, but with seriousness and respect, free from all
levity--observe decorum in every thing, but particularly on this head.
People who are very nice observers of it in what regards the world, are
frequently gross and negligent in respect to religion.

When a child shall have made such necessary reflections as lead to a
knowledge of herself and of God--add to them the historical facts in
which she has already been instructed: this union will enable her to
have a correct idea of the whole of religion: and she will remark with
pleasure the connection between such reflections and the history of
mankind. She will have observed that man did not make himself, that his
soul is the image of God, that his body has been formed with so many
admirable resources, by an industry and power which can only be
divine--and she will then recollect the creation. Afterwards she will
think that he is born with inclinations contrary to reason, that he has
been deceived by pleasure, carried away by anger, and that his body
hurries on his soul, contrary to reason, as a furious courser rushes
forward with a horseman; instead, of the soul governing the body. She
will perceive the cause of this disorder in the history of the sin
of our first parents; and this history will lead her to that of the
Saviour, who reconciles man to God. Such is the foundation of religion.

To make young people better understand the mysteries, actions, and
precepts of Christ, we must dispose them to read the Evangelists. They
must, therefore, be early prepared to read the word of God, as they are
prepared to receive the holy communion of the Sacraments.[6]

 [6] Here follows, in the original, certain matter which may be
 thought to savour too strongly, on the one hand, of the authority due
 to the _Romish Church_; and on the other, of principles (resulting
 therefrom) which are now called _Evangelical_; and as such, contrary
 to the doctrine and tenets of the established Church of England.

Remember, then, to place before their eyes the Gospel, and the great
examples of antiquity; but not till you are assured of their docility,
and simplicity of faith. Provided you lay the foundation of humility,
submission, and an aversion to all suspicious singularity, you will
shew young people, with great benefit and effect, every thing the most
perfect in the law of God, in the institution of the Sacrament, and in
the practice of the ancient church. I know that one cannot hope to give
these instructions, in their full latitude, to all sorts of children; I
propose it only, in order that we may make use of them, as exactly as
possible, according to circumstances, time, and the dispositions of them
whom we instruct.

Superstition, without doubt, is to be avoided in the sex: but nothing
eradicates or prevents it better than solid instruction: this
instruction, although it ought to be restrained within proper bounds,
and different from the studies of the learned, produces greater effects
than is ordinarily imagined. A person sometimes thinks himself to be
well informed, who in reality is not so; and whose ignorance is even so
great that he is not in a condition to feel what he wants in order to
know the foundation of christianity.

Never suffer any thing to be mixed with the faith, or the practices, of
religion, that is not drawn from the Gospel. Carefully guard children
against certain abuses which are but too common, and which are,
therefore, too apt to be considered as points of present discipline in
the church. These errors are not to be guarded against without recurring
to the source, and knowing the origin of the usages and customs of holy
men of the primitive ages. Children who are naturally too credulous,
should never be used to admit _lightly_ certain histories without
authority; nor to attach themselves to certain devotions which are the
offspring of an indiscreet zeal. The true way of instructing them in
these subjects, is, not to criticise those things which have often been
introduced from pious notions, but to shew, without passing a severe
censure, that they rest on no solid foundation. Content yourself with
omitting these matters in your instructions relating to the christian
religion: this silence will be sufficient, at first, to enable children
to form a perfect idea of christianity, without adding practical
cautions: In the course of your instructions, you may prepare them, by
degrees, against the reasoning of _Calvinists_: I think this will not
be useless, as we mingle every day with people prejudiced in favour of
Calvinistical opinions, who deliver them in the most familiar

Give children a taste for plain, sensible, and edifying discourses--not
for those that are full of vain and affected ornament: accustom their
imaginations to hear death spoken of: to see, without perturbation,
a funeral pall--an open grave--sick people who are dying, and those
already dead: if you can do so without exposing them to violent emotions
of fear.

Nothing is more to be lamented than to see many people, who are really
religious, express a continued dread of death: some absolutely turn pale
at finding the number _thirteen_ at table--or on having had certain
dreams--or having seen a saltseller thrown down: the fear arising from
these imaginary presages is a gross remnant of paganism: make children
see the folly and absurdity of them. Although women may not have
the same opportunities of shewing their courage, as men, they ought
nevertheless to possess it. Cowardice is despicable, every where, and
has always bad effects. A woman should know how to resist vain alarms,
and should be firm against unforeseen danger: let her cry and be
agitated on great occasions only, and in them let virtue be her chief
support. A christian of either sex should never be a coward. The soul of
a christian, if one may so express it, is the contempt of this life, and
the love of that which is to come.


_On Religious Studies._[7]

 [7] The present original chapter is substituted for that of Fenelon,
 as being more applicable, in the opinion of the translator, to the
 generality of female readers; at least to those of his own country.

The preceding observations have sufficiently convinced us of the
importance of religion, both as it affects our temporal and eternal
welfare. It now follows that we instruct our children in the reading
of certain religious works, which are not only considered to contain
wholesome doctrine, but which may strengthen us in the opinions we have
cherished, and establish, on an unshaken basis, "the reason of the hope
that is in us."

Without a pretty accurate information of those _data_, on which our
religion is formed, we become subject to the caprice or violence of
certain artful characters, who seldom fail to perplex us, and undermine
many of the essential articles of the christian faith; and who
ultimately leave us, after pulling down the fair fabric we had built, in
all the misery of doubt and distraction. The scriptures may be said to
be written with the finger of God, on adamant which can never perish: it
is not in the power of man to shake their authority, or to divert their
proper influence on a sincere and pious mind. It is our duty to be
careful to comprehend them thoroughly, to have as clear a conception
as possible of their more mysterious parts, without harassing our minds
if some things still remain for future revelation. We are not to
censure what we do not, at first, understand: reason and knowledge are
progressive--by degrees, the mist of ignorance is cleared away, and the
sunshine of intelligence succeeds. Above all, let us not presumptuously
conclude certain passages to be irrecoverably obscure, without
consulting the many able commentators who have treated on them; but as
the library of a mother may not be extensively theological, let us apply
for information to those pious pastors, and studious men, who have
made these commentators their particular study. If we are so eager to
satisfy ourselves and our children on the trifling topics that ordinary
conversation gives rise to, how much more anxious should we be to
obtain certainty and truth on the important doctrines of revelation!

I do not, however, mean that a child is to be always reading the bible,
or sermons, or the catechism--nothing is so injudicious. At her tender
years she can comprehend little of the doctrinal points of scripture;
and besides, from such constant habits of perusing religious books, she
may become fatigued and disgusted, and turn an indifferent ear to all
future application to them. Let us avoid making children affectedly
knowing in those subjects which sometimes require the mature years and
profound study of divines to comprehend. Nothing is so disgusting as
_cant_; as religious quotations in young people, who cannot, from their
years and habits, have formed an accurate idea either of the meaning or
application of what they quote: such things savour strongly of those
_suspicious singularities_ which Fenelon is so anxious to eradicate. The
habit of quoting scripture in young persons of either sex, carries with
it a pertness and conceit, which all judicious parents will be careful
to discourage. Sacred truths, or religious denunciations, are not to
be enforced by the levity of youth; ignorance and hypocrisy may be
suspected where such premature sanctity prevails. If there be one
thing more than another, which destroys the simplicity and harmless
cheerfulness of girls, it is the giving them notions of puritannical
gravity, and artificial sobriety of behaviour: joy and elasticity of
spirits are not of themselves criminal. If we repress these innocent
ebullitions, by inculcating formality and fastidiousness, we do as
much mischief to the growth of the mind, as we should do to that of an
upright and proportionate body, by the application of bandages and

No small degree of care and skill is requisite for the direction of
religious studies in young people, and especially in females; because
the opposite sex, which is always fond of triumph, will be exerting
every art, and trying every expedient, to weaken and subvert their
arguments. If reason or superior knowledge fail, ridicule is resorted
to; and this, it must be confessed, has a very strong effect on
those young people of a disposition above described. In early years,
religious impressions should be kept solemnly within the breast: they
should be our consolation in affliction, our hope in distress, and the
grand stimulus to prayer and meditation. It is well known, that from
a premature disclosure of crude religious sentiments, ridicule and
disgust are excited; and many an amiable and pious girl has suffered
her principles to be shaken, and her faith to be overturned, by the
buffoonery and sarcasm of a weak and contemptible antagonist. Let us
endeavour to guard against this; and to prevent any ill effects arising
from those important studies, which should be the ornament and solace of
our lives.

From no quarter can a child receive religious instruction with more
benefit than from a _mother_; and in proportion to the ignorance or
indiscretion of the latter, will be that of the former. If a child is
unaccustomed to see books of religion in her mother's library, she
can have but little curiosity to peruse them; and if they at last
be obtruded on her, she will naturally suspect the sincerity of her
instructor, who produces works which she deems of the highest importance
to her pupil's welfare, but of which she herself does not possess a
single copy. This evil is easily remedied, if parents would only
consider the importance of religious education; if, instead of crowding
their shelves with the flimsy productions of novelists and romancers,
they would admit a few judicious works, which treat of the evidences of
the Christian religion, and describe the chief doctrines by which it is
upheld. A portion of these studies might be given at stated times, or as
the inclination of the child prompts, so as not to make them too formal
or severe.

By the blessing of providence, we have, in our own country, a great
abundance of excellent religious tracts, which display the rise,
progress and establishment of the Christian religion. Men of eminence
and piety--archbishops, bishops, divines of every rank, and laymen, have
all contributed their talents, with various ability and success, to set
forth the glory of the gospel, and the truths of the kingdom of heaven.
Let us, therefore, attend to the doctrines which these wise and virtuous
men, who have passed a long and studious life, as labourers in the
vineyard of Christ, have illustrated and enforced. Let us not indulge
chimeras and conceits of our own; but, with a diffidence and timidity,
listen to those opinions of the learned and the good, whose abilities
and opportunities have best entitled them to pronounce judgment. Nothing
should be so much avoided as hasty and obstinate conclusions, drawn from
premises which are not sufficiently understood.

In proportion to the breadth and depth of the foundation, will be the
strength of the superstructure; and if we take care to place in the
hands of young religious pupils, such sound and serious books as awaken
piety, without kindling enthusiasm--as lead and satisfy the reason,
without exciting vain and sceptical curiosity--as strengthen the mind,
and meliorate the heart, without creating vanity, selfishness, and
hypocrisy--we shall, I ardently conceive, have effected _that_ which it
was our wish and duty to perform.

Agreeably to these principles and reflections, I am desirous of
recommending such plain, perspicuous, and sound works, as comprehend
every thing relating to the elements, doctrines, and practice of
christianity; and such as may not be difficult, or attended with great
expence, in the procuring.

1. The TEN COMMANDMENTS; _and the 5th, 6th, and 7th Chapters of the
Gospel, according to St. Matthew_. These important parts of holy writ
contain a fund of the most excellent and essential doctrines for a
christian to know and practice; the primitive christians used to commit
them to memory, and instruct their children in the application of

 [8] Perhaps it may be advisable to have them printed separately, in
 large striking letters, so as to be impressed stronger on the child's

The following production may be worth obtaining; "AN ABSTRACT _of the
Historical Part of the Old Testament, with References to other Parts of
the Scripture, especially to the New Testament_;" which are placed at
length in an opposite column. London: printed by W. Bowyer, 1730, 8vo.
This is a very useful, though not generally known, publication. If it
has not been reprinted, it is now probably scarce.

The work is "inscribed to the founders, benefactors, and trustees, of
the charity schools." It was composed by that learned printer, Mr.
Bowyer; and the introduction, written by way of preface, bears strong
marks of the piety and talents of its author. It is followed by a
"Translation of a Letter from the Earl of Mirandola and Concordia, to
his nephew, then an officer in the army of the Emperor Charles V." This
letter, which is too long to extract, is serious and impressive; and
such as does great honour to the religious principles, and sound sense
of the writer.

2. Dr. DODDRIDGE'S _Three Sermons on the Evidences of Christianity_,
separately published, from the particular superintendance and
recommendation of the present Bishop of London. It is an useful tract,
and is sold very cheap.

3. The (present) BISHOP OF LONDON'S _Summary of the Evidences of
Christianity, &c._ which may be considered one of the most useful, and
perspicuous treatises extant; it is very cheap.

4. Mr. ADDISON'S _Treatise on the same_. This (which should properly
have been first noticed) is a beautiful and masterly dissertation, and
worthy of the celebrity of its pious and elegant author.

5. GROTIUS _on the Truth of the Christian Religion_. Every enlightened
mother will derive great pleasure and benefit from the perusal of this
incomparable treatise. It has been translated by John Clark, and lately
by the Rev. Mr. Madan, from the Latin of the famous Grotius. Students in
divinity are usually examined in the original when they present
themselves for holy orders.

6. BISHOP PRETTYMAN'S _Elements of Christian Theology_. This is a
work of deserved repute, and will be found greatly instructive. The
historical events of scripture are detailed in an interesting manner,
and cannot fail to afford the most pleasing conviction of the truth of
what is related. There has been an abridgment of it in one large 8vo.
volume, by the Rev. Mr. Clapham. The original is in 2 vols. 8vo.

7. SECKER (Archbishop) _on the Catechism_: and WILSON (Bishop) _on the
Sacrament_. These are truly excellent treatises: their established
celebrity renders no further recital of them necessary in this place.

8. SERMONS: by _Dr. S. Clarke_; _Abp. Secker_, _Sherlock_, _Jortin_,
_Balguy_, _Porteus_, (Bishop of London), _Blair_, and _Carr_.[9] These
among many other excellent ones, whose enumeration would swell the list
to an unnecessary size, may be perused and meditated on with great
advantage. They are not selected in rejection of others, but solely as
containing much sound and edifying matter, which may bring forth "sixty
and an hundred fold."

 [9] Miss Boudler has published a small volume of useful sermons to a
 country congregation, which it may be advisable to procure. Her name
 is not prefixed to the work; but it is published by _Cadell_ and
 _Davies_, in the Strand.

9. WILSON'S (Bishop) _Bible, with Commentaries_: in 3 vols. 4to. Bath:
printed by Crutwell. Perhaps, the most judicious and unexceptionable
illustration of the sacred text extant.

10. GISBORNE'S _Duties of Women_, and _Familiar Survey of the Christian
Religion_, are both very excellent performances, and reflect great
credit on the head and heart of the distinguished and benevolent writer.

11. _The Whole Duty of Man._

12. _The Ladies' Calling._ These two last works are from the same
anonymous author, whose publications are, indeed, purer than gold--"yea,
than much fine gold."

Such are the works recommended to the perusal and meditation of serious
and enlightened parents: and such, it is hoped, will not bring forth
"bitter fruits."

There are moments of languor and heaviness, of dulness and despondency,
to which the best of mothers may be exposed, and which may be removed,
or relieved, by a perusal of some of the foregoing writers: in such
moments, she will know the full value of their works, and will not
repent the trouble or expence incurred in the procuring of them. She
will then be convinced that the common productions, which amuse the
ignorant and the foolish, could not have supplied the want of them;
whether in soothing the pangs which arise from a deceased husband or
child, or in teaching her to bear up with fortitude against the frowns
of a persecuting world. The balm of consolation, which arises from these
studies, she will pour into the bosom of a dutiful daughter; and the
knowledge that she has gained by experience, will be imparted to, and
grow up with, her rising posterity.

Let it always be impressed on our minds, that if we are so anxious to
procure costly furniture, or splendid apparel, which the moth eats, or
the thief steals, how much more is it our duty to devote a comparatively
trifling sum towards the acquisition of those mental treasures, of which
neither treachery nor violence can dispossess us, and which fit us, by
degrees, for the eternal mansions of happiness and rest.

It has been observed, that the female sex is more liable to fanaticism
than the male; the history, however, of religious sectaries, does not
authorise this observation: instances of violence and mad persecution
may be adduced, in which females have taken a very subordinate part, or
indeed none at all; and while the examples of Athanasius and Arius are
fresh in the memory, we need not resort to another. That the warmth
and susceptibility of a female mind renders it exposed to strong
impressions, before the judgment begins to operate, cannot be disputed.
What pleases on the first impression is not easily eradicated; and we
conclude that to be true, which flatters some previous opinion, or
favour some secret bias. Error, thus introduced, is not extirpated
without difficulty: and if to the pliancy and sensibility of a female
mind, we add, that opportunities are seldom offered of going into deep
critical investigations, or listening to opposite opinions, which are
founded on reason and experience, it will not appear surprising that
women are sometimes warm in their religious sentiments, and slow and
reluctant to abandon them.

Hence follows the necessity of a _proper religious instruction_--of an
adherence to those doctrines and opinions, which, on a careful survey of
the many that have agitated mankind, seem to be the best calculated for
ensuring our present and future welfare. In thus offering advice on so
important a subject, the translator has ventured to advance certain
sentiments, and to recommend certain works, which in his humble
apprehension, appeared likely to be productive of some assistance
and advantage. When he recommends a conformity to the tenets of the
ESTABLISHED CHURCH OF THIS COUNTRY, he does so from a conscientious
conviction of its purity and excellence; from a recollection of the many
great and good men who have lived and died in its cause; and whose works
remain a glorious monument of their diligence, piety, and learning.
While reason, integrity, and virtue, have any influence on the human
character, while practical good is acknowledged to be superior to
plausible theory, so long shall the luminous and illustrious divines
of the English Church rise above all the pretensions of fanatical and
self-inspired teachers, who turn the word of God into craft, and use the
name of Jesus with their lips, while their hearts are estranged from

That the foregoing sentiments may tend to promote true sober-minded
religion--to adorn the female character with those charms which arise
from the substance, and not the form, of piety--to excite cheerfulness
without levity--seriousness without despondency--and happiness in this
present state without groundless anxieties of the future--is the earnest
and ardent wish of their author.


_Remarks on Ordinary Defects among Girls._

We are now to speak of the care and attention which are requisite
to preserve girls from many defects to which they are too commonly
addicted. They are oftentimes brought up in so effeminate and timid a
manner, as to be rendered incapable of a firm and regular conduct. At
first there is much affectation, which afterwards become habitual, in
those ill-founded fears, and in those tears, which are so cheaply and
plentifully bestowed. A contempt of such affectations would operate
greatly in correcting them; as they are in a considerable degree the
offspring of vanity.

They should also be repressed in the indulgence of too violent
friendships, little jealousies, excessive compliments, and flatteries:
all these things spoil them, and accustom them to imagine that dryness
and austerity belongs to every thing which is serious and grave. We
should strive to effect this, so that their common mode of parlance be
short and precise. A good understanding consists in retrenching all
superfluous discourse, and in saying much in few words: whereas, the
greater part of women say little in many words. They mistake facility
of utterance and vivacity of imagination for good sense: they make no
selection of their thoughts: they observe no order in regard to the
things they have to explain: they are passionate in every thing they
utter, and passion produces loquacity. Nothing very excellent can be
expected of a woman, if she is not obliged to reflect on consequences,
to examine her thoughts, to explain them in a precise manner, and
afterwards to be silent.

Another circumstance which greatly contributes to the loquacity of
women, is, that they are naturally artificial, and use a _roundabout_
manner to arrive at the proper end. They are fond of _finesse_: and
how is it possible they should be otherwise, when they are ignorant
of a more prudent method--and when it is usually the first thing which
example has taught them? They have a soft and ductile nature which
enables them easily to play a part in every thing: tears cost them
nothing: their passions are lively, and their knowledge limited: hence
it is that they neglect nothing to come off successful--and that they
admire certain methods, which to a serious and prudent woman would
appear very exceptionable: they seldom stop to enquire whether such a
thing is desirable, but are anxious and indefatigable only in obtaining
it. Add to this, they are timid and full of what is called "_mauvais
honte_;" which is another source of dissimulation. The method of
preventing so great an evil, never to put them under a necessity of
finessing, but accustom them to declare ingenuously their sentiments
upon every lawful topic. Let them be at liberty to express their
_ennui_ whenever they feel it: and let them never be subjected to feign
an admiration of certain persons or certain books, which in reality
displease them.

Sometimes a mother is prejudiced against a governess, and undertakes
the management of the child herself, while the daughter cunningly acts
contrary to her taste. When children are so wretched that they are under
the necessity of disguising their sentiments, the way of extricating
them from such a dilemma, is, to instruct them solidly in the maxims of
true prudence--as one perceives that the method of correcting a taste
for novels and romances, is, by exciting a turn for useful and agreeable
histories. If you do not encourage a rational curiosity, they will
entertain an irrational one--in like manner, if you do not form their
minds on the principles of true prudence, they will become attached to
falsehood, which is, in fact, _finesse_.

Shew them, by examples, how one is able, without duplicity, to be
discreet, foresighted, and attached to _legitimate_ means of succeeding.
Tell them that prudence consists chiefly in speaking little--in
entertaining a greater distrust of oneself than of others, and not in
uttering false sentiments, and playing a deceitful part. An upright
conduct, and a general reputation for integrity, begets more confidence
and esteem, and, in the end, even more temporal advantages, than
perverse and suspicious habits. How much does this judicious rectitude
of conduct distinguish a person, and render her fit for the most
important undertakings!

But add, how base and contemptible is _premeditated finesse_! it is
either an account of some trifle which one is ashamed to mention, or it
must be considered as a pernicious passion. When one wishes for that
which it is lawful to wish for, the request is made openly--and it is
sought for in a direct and proper method, with moderation. What is
there more delightful and agreeable, than to be sincere? always
tranquil--always content--having nothing to fear or to feign? On the
contrary, a dissimulating character is always in agitation--remorse--and
danger--and under the deplorable necessity of covering _one finesse_ by
substituting an _hundred others_.

With all these shameful disquietudes, artificial characters never escape
that misery from which they are constantly flying--sooner or later their
_real_ character will appear. If the world has been their dupe in some
single action, it will not continue so during the whole of their lives:
oftentimes they are the dupes of those whom they wished to deceive: for
there is sometimes an appearance of being dazzled by them, and they
think themselves beloved--at the very moment, perhaps, when they are
despised. At least they cannot prevent suspicion--and can any thing be
more contrary to the rational interests of a prudent woman, than to see
herself always suspected? Unfold these things by degrees--according as
opportunity, necessity, or the bent of your pupil's intellect, may

Observe, however, that cunning (or _finesse_) is always the offspring
of a base heart and narrow-minded spirit. In proportion as we wish to
conceal our views we become cunning--being convinced that we are not as
we ought to be--or, that, seeking for lawful objects, we adopt unworthy
means of obtaining them--which arises from our ignorance in seeking such
objects. Make children remark the impertinence of certain artifices that
they see practised--the contempt which it draws on those practising
them--and lastly, make them ashamed of themselves when you detect them
in some dissimulation. As they grow up, deprive them of what they love,
when they wish to obtain it by _artifice_--but declare, that they shall
possess it when they ask _openly_: do not be afraid even of indulging
their little weaknesses, in order to give them an opportunity and the
courage of shewing them. False shame is the most dangerous of evils and
the most difficult to cure; and this too, if great care be not taken,
will render all others irremediable.

Paint, in their proper colours, those infamous artifices by which they
would wish to deceive their neighbour without having the reproach of
deceiving him: there is more perfidy and knavery in these refinements,
than in common artifices. Some people, one may say, boldly practice
deception--but wretches of the preceding description, add novelty and
disguise to authorise it. Tell a child that GOD _is truth itself_--that
it is mocking _him_ when we jest at truth in our discourse--which should
be precise and correct, and should consist in few words, that truth be
not violated.

Be on your guard not to imitate those who applaud children, when they
have discovered sharpness of intellect by some _finesse_. Far from
supposing these tricks pretty and diverting, check them severely--and
manage it so, that all their artifice may end unsuccessfully, and
experience at last may disgust them with it. In praising them for
such and such faults, we, in fact, persuade them that _ability_ and
_deception_ are one and the same thing.


_The Vanity of Beauty and Dress._

Nothing is more to be dreaded among young girls, than _vanity_--as they
are born with a violent desire to please. Those roads which conduct
_men_ to authority and fame being shut to _them_; they strive to
be recompensed by the charms of intellect and person: hence flows
their conversation so soft and so insinuating--hence it is that they
aspire, as well to beauty, as to all the exterior graces, and become
passionately fond of dress. A turban or bandeau is of the greatest
importance in their estimation.

This excess is carried farther in our country[10] than in any other.
That volatile disposition so remarkable among us, causes a continual
variety of fashions: so that, to the love of dress is added the love of
novelty, which has strange charms for some people. These two follies
united, reverses all orders and conditions, and corrupts all manners.
As soon as _certain rules_ are done away in respect to our clothes and
furniture, the same irregularity prevails in our conditions. Public
authority cannot settle a "table of particulars:"[11] every one,
therefore, chooses according to his money; or rather, without money,
according to his ambition and vanity.

 [10] France.

 [11] This is construed in the above manner in preference to "the
 table of particular persons:" conceiving that Fenelon means "certain
 rules or laws" to be observed in regard to _living_ and _dressing_.

This passion for splendor ruins families; and the ruin of families
brings with it a corruption of manners. On the one hand, it begets,
in persons of mean extraction, a passion for a large fortune (which
religion assures us is sinful); on the other, among people of quality
who find their resources exhausted, it produces mean and dirty practices
in order to support their extravagance: hence, honor, fidelity,
integrity, and benevolence, (even towards their nearest relatives,) are
extinguished for ever!

These evils arise from the influence of vain women in directing the
fashions; they ridicule those, as antiquated dames, who wish to preserve
the gravity and simplicity of ancient manners.

Be particularly zealous, therefore, to make girls understand how much
more estimable is that honor which flows from an upright conduct and
sound capacity, than that which arises from the elegance and splendor of
dress. Beauty, you may say, deceives the possessor of it much more than
it does those whom it dazzles: it agitates and intoxicates the soul; we
are more foolishly idolising ourselves, than the most passionate lovers
the object of their affection. A few years only make the difference
between a beautiful and ordinary woman. Beauty is not desirable unless
it produces advantageous marriages: and how should it effect this,
unsupported by merit and virtue? A girl, merely beautiful, can only hope
to be united to a giddy young man, with whom she is pretty certain of
misery: on the contrary, her good sense and modesty would cause her to
be sought for by prudent men, sensible of such solid qualifications.
Those whose fame consists only in their beauty, soon become ridiculous:
they approach, without perceiving it, to a certain age in which their
charms begin to fade; still, however, indulging the dear delusion of
self-gratification, when the world has long ago been disgusted with
their vanity. In short, it is as unreasonable to be attached _solely to
beauty_, as to concentrate all merit in strength of body; a maxim, which
barbarians and savages only inculcate.

From beauty let us pass to DRESS. True grace does not depend on a vain
and affected exterior; although propriety, and some little skill may be
shewn in our necessary clothing. But after all, these silks or satins,
which may be pretty enough, can never be considered as ornaments which
_confer_ beauty.

I would even make young girls remark that noble simplicity which appears
in the drapery of _statues_, and in many figures which yet remain of
Grecian and Roman _costume_. They should contemplate the superiority
of hair negligently tied behind, and of the broad folds of a full and
floating drapery. It would also be as well for them to hear painters
and connoisseurs, who possess a true taste for the antique, converse on
these subjects.

In proportion as their understanding rose superior to the prejudices of
fashion, they would hold in contempt those artificial modes of twisting
and curling the hair, and all the paraphernalia of a fashionable woman.
I am aware that one should not wish them to assume an entirely-antique
costume of dress, which would be extravagant, and sometimes indecent:
but they might, without the affectation of singularity, model their
taste on that simplicity of attire, which is so noble, so delightful,
and in all respects conformable to the manners of christians. Make them
observe often, and by times, the vanity and, frivolousness of that mind
which is sacrificed to the inconstancy of fashion.[12] True grace
follows, but never does violence to, nature.

 [12] A preceding and subsequent sentence in the original is here
 omitted; because it has an allusion to antiquated _high head
 dresses_; which are now, I believe, banished not only from France,
 but from Europe. The present simple and unaffected mode of female
 dress, (with some ridiculous and indelicate exceptions) is in general
 very conformable to the taste and advice of Fenelon.

Fashion, however, soon destroys itself: it is perpetually aiming at
perfection, and never finds it; at least, it never stops when it _has_
found it. It would be reasonable enough if all changing and alteration
were to cease after having found perfection, comprising both elegance
and utility: but to change for the sake of changing, appears very much
like sacrificing true politeness and good taste to inconstancy and
confusion! Fashions are frequently founded on mere caprice. Women are
the sole arbitrators of them; and it being difficult to say, who is to
be believed or imitated, the most giddy and least informed seduce and
influence the rest. They neither choose nor leave any thing according
to rule: it is quite sufficient if one thing, though useful, has been
long adopted: it ought to be discarded: and another thing, though
perfectly ridiculous, but having the charm of novelty, is immediately
substituted in its place, and becomes the admiration of all. After
having laid a proper foundation, describe to them the rules of
_christian modesty_. We learn, you will say, that man is born in the
corruption of sin: his body, exposed to a contagious malady, is an
inexhaustible source of temptation to his soul. Our Saviour has taught
us to place all our virtue in fear and distrust of ourselves. Would you,
we may exclaim, hazard your own soul and that of your neighbour by the
indulgence of a foolish vanity? Look, therefore, with horror upon the
exposure of the bosom and all other indecencies! When these absurdities
are even committed without any premeditated passion, they, at least,
savour strongly of vanity, and betray an unbridled desire to please.
Does this variety justify, before God and man, so rash and scandalous
a conduct, and so likely to be imitated by others? This blind passion
of pleasing, is it conformable to a christian character, which should
consider every thing as idolatrous, that perverts the love of God, and
kindles the contempt of his creatures? When such giddy female characters
strive to please--what is their real object? Is it not to excite the
passions of men? And can they regulate these passions when in their
possession? If women go too far, ought they not to be answerable for
the consequences? And do they not always go too far, when their minds
have been but little enlightened? You are absolutely preparing a subtile
and deadly poison, and pouring it on the spectators beneath, and yet you
imagine yourself _innocent_! When you address your pupils in this strong
manner, add to it, the example of those whom modesty has recommended,
and those whom indelicacy has covered with dishonor. Above every thing,
never suffer children's minds to be filled with ideas that suit not with
their condition. Repress severely all their whims and fantasies--shew
them the inevitable danger which follows--and how much they make
themselves despised by wise and discreet people, in thus assuming a
character which does not belong to them.

What now remains to be effected, is, the managing of children of high
and animated spirit. If care be not taken of this, when they have any
vivacity, they intrigue: they wish to speak on every topic: they decide
on works the least calculated for their capacity, and affect, through
extreme delicacy, to be easily fatigued and overpowered. A girl should
never speak but when necessity prompts: and then, with an air of
deference and doubt: they should never even discuss subjects above the
level of a common understanding, how well soever versed in them. Let a
child possess a good memory and vivacity--shew pleasant little turns,
and a facility of _graceful_ eloquence--all these qualifications she
may have in common with a great number of other stupid and contemptible
women. But an exact and uniform conduct--an equal and regulated
spirit--when to be silent, and when to speak--these rare qualifications
will indeed distinguish her among her sex. As to squeamish delicacy and
affectation of _ennui_, she must be repressed in both--by shewing her
that a correct taste and good understanding consist in accommodating
oneself to every thing in proportion to its utility.

Good sense and virtue are alone estimable. These will teach her to
consider disgust and _ennui_, not as a commendable delicacy, but as the
weakness of a diseased mind.

Since one must sometimes associate with gross characters, and mingle in
occupations not altogether congenial--reason, which is the only real
delicacy to be indulged, should instruct us to accommodate ourselves
according to every emergency. An understanding which knows in what true
politeness consists, and practises it, but which aspires to objects
beyond it, in the hope of enjoying more solid attainments--is infinitely
superior to delicate and merely polite characters, who are subject to be
disgusted by their own nicety and refined taste.


_Instruction of Women in their Duties._

Let us now discuss, in detail, those particulars of which it is the duty
of a woman to be well informed. What are her employments? She is charged
with the education of her children--of the boys, till a certain age--of
the girls till they are married; of the conduct, manners, and morals
of her domestic attendants; of the whole detail of household expenses;
of the means of managing every thing with credit and economy; and
sometimes, of the regulation of farms and the receipt of profits which
arise from them.

Women, as well as men, should adapt their pursuits in literature and
science to their situations and functions in life; and according
to their occupations, should be their studies. We must, therefore,
confine the instruction of women to the foregoing circumstances. But a
curious woman, wishing to pry into every thing, may fancy that these
instructions will confine her curiosity within narrow limits indeed--she
is mistaken, because she knows not the importance and extent of the
particulars in which I wish her to be instructed.

What discernment is necessary to know the disposition and genius of
each of her children! to find out the proper mode of conduct so as to
discover their humours, inclinations, and talents! to check those
passions which are born with them, to inculcate good maxims, and to cure
them of their errors! What prudence should she possess, to acquire and
preserve authority over them, without forfeiting their confidence and
esteem! Has she not also need of observing and thoroughly knowing those
people whom she places near them? Undoubtedly she has: a mother of a
family ought to be completely instructed in religion, and to possess a
mature firm mind, adapted to, and experienced in, the government of her

Can it be supposed that women ought _not_ to be explicitly and _formally
instructed_ in these duties, because they naturally fall into them
during the lives of their husbands, who are generally engaged in
business from home? Or, if widows, they still attend to them more
closely? St. Paul generally attaches the salvation of mothers to the
good education of daughters; for by these, he assures them, they will be

I do not here take upon me to explain all that a woman ought to know for
the education of her daughters; because such a memorial would make them
sufficiently feel the extent of that knowledge which it is their duty to

To the government of families, add ECONOMY. The greater part of women
neglect it as a mean consideration, fit only for country folks or
farmers; or, at best, for innkeepers and housekeepers. Women nursed in
the lap of affluence, luxury, and idleness, not only neglect, but
despise, this domestic virtue; and seem to be forgetful of a middle
state between the rusticity of a peasant, and the wildness of a Canadian
savage. If you speak to them of the sale of corn, of the cultivation
of lands, of the different kinds of revenue, of the receipt or raising
of rents and other seignoral rights, of the best method of laying out
farms, and appointing receivers, they imagine that you wish to reduce
them to occupations, unworthy of their rank and character.

Ignorance is the offspring of their contempt for economy. The ancient
Greeks and Romans, so distinguished for their ability and politeness,
studied economy with the utmost care: some of their finest writers, from
their own experience, have composed works which we still possess, and
in which they give an account of the latest improvements of agriculture.
It is well known that even their conquerors did not disdain to work in
the field; and instances have come down to us in which the splendor of a
triumph was followed by the care and conduct of a plough. All this is so
foreign to our own customs and manners, that we should not credit it if
it were not supported by historical truth. But is it not natural that
the defence or augmentation of a country should be subordinate to the
ultimate object of cultivating it peaceably? Of what advantage is
victory, if it enable us not to gather the fruits of peace? After all,
solidity of intellect consists in wishing to be exactly informed of the
way in which those things operate, which constitute the foundations of
human life: the greatest occurrences are regulated by this principle.
The strength and felicity of a country consists not in the possession of
provinces badly cultivated, but in the enjoyment of those productions of
the earth which are necessary and sufficient for the sustenance of a
numerous people.

Without doubt it requires a more elevated and comprehensive genius to be
instructed and well informed in all the particulars relating to economy,
and to be thereby able to regulate an entire family (which is a little
republic), than to play, talk of the fashions, and be expert in all the
little polite arts of conversation. That is a contemptible mind indeed,
which aspires not beyond perfection in the talent of conversation: one
sees, on all sides, women whose discourse is full of sound sense and
solid maxims--while this conduct is replete with frivolousness and
absurdity--the effect of not applying by times to better pursuits.

But take care of the opposite defect: women run a risk of being in
extremes in every thing. It would be advisable for them, from their
infancy, to have the management of some trifling affair--to keep
accounts--to see the mode of bargaining for what they purchase, and to
know how each thing should be made to answer a good use. Take care,
also, that economy borders not on avarice: shew them, in detail, all the
absurdities attendant on this latter passion. Tell them that "avarice
gains little, and dishonors itself greatly." A reasonable mind will
seek, in a frugal and laborious life, only how to avoid the shame and
injustice attached to a prodigal and ruinous conduct. Superfluous
expenses are to be retrenched as they enable a person to devote a
portion of money to satisfy the claims of benevolence, friendship, and
charity: great gain is frequently the result of seasonable forbearance:
good order and management, and not sordid savings, are the source of
profit. Do not fail to expose the gross error of those female economists
who pertinaceously forbid a mold candle, while they suffer their whole
affairs to be subjected to the knavery or rapacity of a steward. Respect
propriety as well as economy. Accustom young people to do nothing in a
slovenly and disorderly manner, and to remark the least disarrangement
in a house. Make them also sensible that nothing so much contributes
to propriety and economy, as the keeping of every thing in its proper
place. This rule appears too trifling to mention; nevertheless it goes a
great way if it be rigidly observed. For instance--are you in want of
any thing? not a moment is lost in finding it--there is neither trouble,
disputation, nor embarrassment attending its search: you put your hand
immediately upon it, and when satisfied, replace it in the situation
where you found it. This _nice order_ constitutes one of the essential
parts of propriety; and every eye is struck with the neat appearance of
so exact an arrangement. Moreover, a particular place allotted to each
article, not only has a pleasing appearance, but, in reality, tends to
the preservation of that article. It is _used_ less than it otherwise
would be--it is not so frequently spoilt by accident--it is even more
respected and treasured: for example, a vase would never be covered with
dust, or become liable to be broken, if it were instantly put away after
being done with. A passion for arranging things orderly, produces a love
of neatness; and this will appear very advantageous, if it be considered
that by such means servants are never encouraged in idleness and
confusion. Again, something is gained by making their service prompt
and easy, and depriving us of an opportunity of becoming impatient and
impetuous, which is generally the case when things cannot be found from
confusion and irregularity.

At the same time, avoid the excess of politeness and propriety. When
propriety is within moderation, it is a virtue; but when we consult too
much our own tastes and fancies, it is converted into a littleness of
mind. Good taste rejects excessive delicacy: it treats little matters
_as_ little ones, and is not hurt at any unpleasant consequences
resulting therefrom. Ridicule, before children, those knick-knacks and
gewgaws, of which some women are prodigiously fond, and which lead them
insensibly into unwarrantable expenses. Accustom young people to a
propriety and decorum which is simple and easy of practice--shew them
the best way of managing things--but shew them also the advantage of
slighting them. Tell them how paltry and contemptible it is to grumble
if a dish be badly seasoned, if a curtain be unevenly folded, or a chair
be too high or too low.

It is undoubtedly better to be naturally coarse, than to have an
overweening delicacy in matters of little moment. This pernicious
delicacy, if not repressed in women of understanding, is more dangerous
as it regards conversation than every thing else: to females of this
stamp, the greater part of mankind appears insipid or fatiguing: the
least deviation from politeness is monstrous: and they are always
ridiculing and disgusted. Make such women know betimes that nothing is
so injudicious as judging superficially of people by their manners,
instead of examining the very bottom of their intellect, their
sentiments and useful qualities. Convince them, by a variety of proofs,
how much a country woman, with a coarse or even ridiculous manner, but
with a good heart and sound understanding, is more estimable than a
courtisan, who, under an acquired politeness, hides an ungrateful and
unjust heart, capable of every meanness and dissimulation. Observe also,
that those characters are always weak which incline to idleness and
disgust. There is no one whose conversation is so bad, as that some
good may not, occasionally, be drawn from it; and although a person at
liberty would prefer choosing the best characters to converse with,
yet there is some consolation, when reduced to converse with inferior
characters, that we may make them talk on subjects that they understand,
from which, perhaps, some information may be gained. But let us now
return to those particulars in which a girl should be instructed.


_Continuation of the Duties of Women._

To the duties previously enumerated, may be added the art of _choosing
and retaining servants_. We should employ such as have honor and
religion: their offices should be distinctly ascertained: the time and
trouble which each thing requires, the manner of doing it well, and the
expense attending it, should also be considered. It would be absurd
(for instance) to find fault with a servant if you wished her to dress
any thing quicker than it could be dressed; and if you have not some
knowledge of the quantity and price of the ingredients which compose
dishes, you will be liable to become the dupe or the scourge of your
domestics; so that a knowledge of these matters is essential to a
mistress of a family.

It is also necessary to know their humours, to manage their tempers, and
to regulate in a christian-like manner this little household republic,
which is, in general, sufficiently turbulent. Authority, is absolutely
essential in this respect; for the more unreasonable servants are, the
more they should be made obedient by fear: but as they are your brethren
in Christ, and members of his kingdom, a rigid authority should never be
exercised towards them, unless previous persuasion is found to fail.

Strive, therefore, to be beloved by your servants, without descending to
low familiarity; enter not into conversation with them, but at the same
time do not be backward in occasionally speaking, with kindness and
affability, respecting their wants and concerns; and let them be assured
of finding in you a compassionate counsellor. Do not check them too
eagerly in their faults--appear neither surprised nor dissatisfied,
provided you think them not incorrigible: let them gently hear reason;
and submit frequently to little losses by their service, that you may
be able coolly to convince them, that it is not from impetuosity and
chagrin that you correct them, but rather for their own, than your,

It would be no easy task to accustom _young women of fashion_ to adopt a
conduct, at once so amiable and benevolent. The impatience and ardor of
youth, united with the false idea they are apt to entertain of their
birth, often induce them to treat their domestics pretty nearly the same
as they do their horses--they imagine that servants are any thing but
what they really are--and made solely for the convenience of their
masters. Endeavour to shew how revolting these principles are to modesty
in yourself, and to humanity towards your neighbour.

Let it be comprehended that men are not born to be slaves--that it is a
brutal error to suppose our fellow mortals are created to flatter our
laziness and pride; that servitude being established against the natural
equality of mankind, we should endeavour to soften it as much as
possible; that masters themselves, though above their servants in
situation, are not free from errors, and therefore should not expect an
exemption from them in domestics; especially as they have not had the
benefit of instruction and good example--and lastly, if servants become
good for nothing by serving ill, masters also, frequently, become so, by
being served well: for a facility of accommodation in every wish, and an
immediate gratification in every desire, only softens and effeminates
the soul, and renders it peevish and irritable under every trifling

Nothing is so well calculated to effect this domestic government, as the
being _early_ initiated in it. Give a young woman something to manage
herself, on condition of her rendering you some account of it: this
confidence will delight her, for youth is highly pleased when it is
thought worthy of confidence, and capable of doing serious business. The
example of Queen Margaret is a fine illustration of this. That princess
informs us, in her memoirs, that the most sensible pleasure she ever
experienced, was in seeing the queen, her mother, begin to converse
with her, when she was very young, as with a person of years and
maturity--she felt transported with joy on entering into the secrets
of state with the queen and her brother the Duke of Anjou, reflecting
that, not long ago, she had been immersed in the pastimes of children.
Overlook the faults of a child in her first attempts at these things,
and sacrifice something in order that she may ultimately gain
instruction. Make her sensible, in a mild manner, of what she should
have said or done, to avoid the inconveniencies into which she has
been betrayed. Relate to her what has happened to yourself, and be not
anxious to suppress faults, similar to her own, which you committed when
young. Thus will you inspire her with confidence; without which, all
education is but a formal wearisome task.

Teach a girl to read and write correctly. It is a shameful thing, but
too common, to see women of understanding and good breeding, who cannot
accurately pronounce what they read: either they stammer, or have a sort
of singing or whine in their reading--whereas good reading consists
in a simple and natural, but firm and even, tone of voice. They are,
moreover, sometimes grossly deficient in orthography; either as to the
manner of forming, or connecting, their letters when writing: at any
rate they should be taught to write straight, and in a character neat
and legible.

A girl should know the grammar of her own language; not, however,
that she is to be taught by rule, as schoolboys are taught the Latin
language--but that she be used to distinguish the different tenses, in
an obvious and easy manner; to make use of proper terms; and to explain
their thoughts, in a way, at once clear and concise. By these means you
will enable her one day to teach her own children to speak accurately
without previous study. It is well known that in ancient Rome, the
mother of the Gracchi contributed greatly, by a sound education, to
improve the language of her children, who became afterwards such eminent

Females should also be instructed in the first four rules of arithmetic;
namely, in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division; which
will be of essential use to them in keeping accounts. This, though a
very important, is a very disagreeable, occupation with many people; but
early habits, joined to a facility of quick reckoning, by the help of
rules, will overcome every antipathy, and enable us to arrange the most
perplexed accounts. No one can be ignorant that a correct method of
keeping them is often productive of good order throughout an

It will be prudent also to give them a knowledge of the principal rules
of justice: for example, of the difference between a gift and a thing
bequeathed; between a contract, an entail, and a copartnership of
inheritance; the general rules of law, or the particular customs of a
country, which render these things valid; what is exclusive, and what
is common, property; what goods are moveable, and what immoveable.
When women marry, they will find a knowledge of these things of great
importance to them.

But, at the same time, convince them, how incapable they are of entering
deeply into the subtilties of law: how much the law itself, by the
weakness of human reason, is subject to obscurity, and doubtful
rules: how it varies: how uncertain every thing is that depends upon
judicial decision, clear and upright as it may seem: how ruinous and
insupportable is the law's delay, even in the most obvious cases.[13]

 [13] I have here omitted two or three passages of the original,
 because they describe such incongruity and perniciousness in the law
 of France, as cannot be applicable to the modes observed in the
 British courts of judicature.

All this is of importance for women to know, in order to abate their
fondness for lawsuits, and to prevent their trusting implicitly to
counsellors, who would dissuade them from peaceful measures. When they
are widows, or mistresses of their estates in any other way, they may do
well to hear their agents, but not blindly follow them. They should act
with the utmost caution in any suits their agents may advise them to
undertake; and consult men of greater ability, and such as are more
inclined to recommend the advantages of compromise: in short they should
be assured, that the best ability in law causes, is, to foresee the
mischiefs of them, and to know how they may be avoided.

Young women of rank and large fortune should be acquainted with
the duties more particularly attached to great estates: tell them
therefore, what should be done, to prevent the abuses, violence, tricks
and treacheries so common in the country; how they ought to establish
little schools and charitable societies, for the relief of the sick and
needy: shew them also the handicraft trades, that may be set on foot in
certain countries, to help the poor; and above all, how they may be
taught useful knowledge and christian conduct; this however will lead to
a detail too long to be here discussed.

[14]These instructions having been attended to, I think it may not be
improper to allow young women, according to their leisure and capacity,
the perusal of profane or classical writers, provided there be nothing
in them to inflame or mislead the passions: these will be a means also
of giving them a distaste for plays and romances. Put into their hands,
therefore, the Greek and Roman historians; they will there see prodigies
of courage and disinterestedness: let them be acquainted likewise with
the history of their _own country_, which has its excellencies also, and
with that of the neighbouring or foreign countries, judiciously written.
All this will serve to enlarge their understandings, and to fill their
hearts with noble sentiments, provided you guard against vanity and
affectation. It is generally thought a necessary part of a good
education, for a young lady of rank to be taught the Italian and Spanish
languages: for my part I see no use in these acquirements, unless the
lady is to be connected with some Spanish or Italian princess:[15]
besides these two languages often lead them to books that are dangerous,
and which might increase the faults to which they are liable; there is
much to lose, and little to be gained, by these studies. Latin might be
of some use; even in cultivating the elegancies of language, they will
find the Latin more perfect than the Italian and Spanish, which are
full of quaint conceits, and a wantonness of imagination bordering on
extravagance: Latin however should be taught to young women of good
judgment and discreet conduct only; who will set no greater value on
this study than it deserves; who will renounce all vain curiosity, and
have no other view than their own edification.

 [14] Another passage of the original is also here omitted; because it
 relates to the observance of certain feudal rites, and to a knowledge
 of real property, which can be of no service to a woman in this

 [15] Fenelon is certainly fastidious when he censures the acquirement
 of the Italian language, which is one of the most soft and pleasing
 of any in modern Europe. Nor does it at all follow that a knowledge
 of the Italian language should lead to a knowledge of improper
 books--the same argument may be applied to any other language.

I would allow also, but with great care, the perusal of works of
eloquence and poetry, if I saw they had a taste for them, and solidity
of judgment enough to confine themselves to their real use: but fearful
of agitating too much their lively imaginations, I would have the utmost
caution observed in this respect: every thing that may awaken the
sentiments of love, seems to me the more dangerous in proportion as it
is softened and disguised.

MUSIC and PAINTING require the same precautions; all these arts are of
the same taste and tendency: as to music, we know that the ancients
thought nothing was more pernicious to a well regulated republic,
than to admit an _effeminate melody_: it enervates men, unbending and
sensualizing their minds: languishing and passionate tones please only,
by subjecting the soul to the seducement of the senses, till it becomes
intoxicated by them. It was on this account, that the magistrates of
Sparta broke all the instruments, the harmony of which was too delicate;
and this was one of the most important parts of their policy. On the
same account Plato strictly forbids all the luxurious tones of the
Asiatic music; and christians, who ought never to pursue pleasure only
for the sake of pleasure, are under much stronger obligations to guard
themselves against these dangerous entertainments.

Poetry and music, _directed to their true end_, may be of excellent use
to excite in the soul, lively and sublime sentiments of virtue. How
many of the books of scripture of the poetical kind, according to all
appearance were sung by the Hebrews. Songs were the first memorials
which preserved more distinctly, the tradition of divine truths among
men, before the invention of writing. We see how powerful music has
been among the heathen nations, in elevating their minds above the
sentiments of the vulgar: and the church has employed it,[16] for the
consolation of her children, in celebrating the praises of God. We ought
not therefore to abandon these arts, which the spirit of God himself
hath consecrated.

 [16] An admirable sermon, "on the antiquity, use, and excellence, of
 church music," by Bishop Horne, may be seen among the 16 sermons
 separately published by that amiable prelate, in 8vo. Oxford, 1795,
 2d edit.

Music and poetry employed on sacred subjects, would have a powerful
influence in destroying the relish for profane pleasures. But while our
present prejudices prevail, these arts cannot be cultivated without
danger. Lose no time, therefore, in making a young woman who is strongly
susceptible of these impressions, sensible of what charms may be found
in music, even while it is confined to subjects of religion: if she has
a good voice and a taste for music, never hope to keep her in ignorance
of it; to forbid it will only increase her passion for it. It will be
much better to give it a proper direction, than to endeavour to stifle

PAINTING is more easily convertible to good purposes; besides, it
belongs in some degree to women; their needlework cannot properly be
executed without it. I know they might be confined to employments that
are simple and require no skill; but as I think we should contrive to
employ the head and hands of women of condition at the same time, I
could wish they had employments in which art and ingenuity might season
their labours with some entertainment. Their work cannot have any real
beauty, unless it be conducted by a knowledge of the rules of drawing;
for want of which, what one sees in stuffs, lace, and embroidery,
is done in an ill taste; all is confused; without design, without
proportion.[17] These things are reckoned fine, because they cost a
great deal of labour to those who work them, and a great deal of money
to those who buy them. The lustre dazzles those who do not closely
examine, or are not skilful in these matters. The women on this subject
have made rules of their own, which if any man should contest, he
would be thought capricious and absurd. However, they might correct
themselves by an attention to painting, and so be able, at a moderate
expense, and to their great entertainment, to execute works of a noble
variety and beauty, which would bid defiance to the caprice and
uncertainty of fashion.

 [17] I do not think this applicable to the present system of fashion:
 women, in general display great taste in patterns, and great elegance
 in the adjustment of dress.

There is nothing which women ought to guard more against, or despise,
than _living in idleness_. Let them consider that the first christians
of whatever condition of life, all applied themselves to some
employment, not as an amusement, but as a serious, useful, constant
business. The order of nature, the penance imposed on the first man, and
in him upon all his posterity, the great example which our Saviour Jesus
Christ, hath set before us in this respect, all concur to engage us,
each in his station, to a life of labour.

In the education of a young woman, her condition ought to be regarded,
and the situation and cast of life she will probably move in. Take care
that her expectations do not exceed her fortune and rank; if they do,
they will cost her many sorrows; what would have made her happy, will
become disgusting to her, if she has cast a wishful eye on a superior
condition. If a girl is to live in the country, turn her attention
betimes to the occupations of the country; keep her a stranger to the
amusements of the town: shew her the blessings of a simple active life.
If her situation be among the middle ranks of the town, let her not come
near the people of the court; this intercourse will only serve to give
her unbecoming and ridiculous airs: confine her within the bounds of her
own station, and point out to her good examples among those of the same
rank: form her mind to what will be the business of her life: teach her
the management of a tradesman's family: the care that ought to be taken
of his income, whether from returns out of the country, or rents of
houses in the town: what belongs to the education of her children;
in short the whole detail of business or of commerce, into which you
foresee she may probably be thrown, when she is married.[18]

 [18] What follows, in Fenelon, relating to the religious
 establishments of women, and taking the veil, is not here
 inserted--as being wholly inapplicable to the laws and customs of


_Of Governesses._

I foresee that this plan of education, will pass with many for a
chimerical project: it requires, they will say, an uncommon share of
discernment, patience, and skill, to carry it into execution: where are
the governesses capable of following, or even understanding it? But it
should be considered that when we are laying down rules for the best
education that can be given to children, we are not to give imperfect
rules; it is not matter of reprehension then, that in such an enquiry,
we aim at what is most perfect. It is true, we cannot go so far in
practice as our thoughts go upon paper, where they meet with no
obstruction; but after all, though we are absolutely unable to arrive at
perfection in this business, it will be far from useless to know what
perfection is, and to attempt it at any rate; which is the best means
of approaching it as nearly as we can. Besides, my rules do not proceed
upon the supposition of any thing extraordinary in the disposition of
children, or a concurrence of circumstances happily calculated for a
perfect education; on the contrary I endeavour to apply remedies, to
tempers naturally bad, or which have been spoilt: I calculate the common
mistakes in education, and have recourse to the most simple methods of
correcting, in the whole or in part, what has absolute need of

It is true, you will not find in this little work, the means of giving
success to an education neglected or ill conducted; but is there any
thing strange in this? Is it not the most that one can wish, to obtain
simple rules, by the observance of which, a good education may be
acquired. I confess we may dispense, and do dispense generally, with
much less than I propose; but it is likewise very obvious that children
suffer materially by this neglect. The road I am pointing out, though
tedious in appearance, is in reality the shortest, as it leads directly
to the object we are in pursuit of. The other, which is that of _fear_
and of a _superficial culture of the understanding_, short as it may
seem, is in reality long; as it hardly ever attains to the _only true
end of education_, which is to form the mind, and inspire it with a
sincere love of virtue. The greater part of those who have gone this
latter road, have to commence their journey anew, at a moment when their
education seems finished; and after having passed the first years of
their entrance into the world, in committing errors which are often
irreparable, they are forced to learn from experience, and their own
reflections, those maxims, of which that wretched and superficial
education had left them in ignorance. It should be observed moreover,
that the first services demanded in behalf of children, and which
inexperienced people regard as oppressive and impracticable, will
preserve them from troubles much more grievous; and remove obstacles
which become insurmountable, in the course of an education less accurate
and skilful.

Lastly it should be noticed that in order to execute this plan of
education, the business does not consist so much in doing any thing
which requires great talents, as in avoiding the gross errors previously
enumerated. There will be often nothing more wanting than to be calm and
patient with children: to be watchful over them: to inspire them with
confidence: to give plain and intelligible answers to their little
questions: to let their natural dispositions work in order to know them
the better: and to correct them with temper, when they are mistaken, or
in fault. It is not reasonable to expect that a good education can be
conducted by a bad governess; it is enough to deliver rules which will
give success to one, moderately qualified: of such a person it is not
expecting too much that she be possessed of good sense, a mild temper,
and the fear of God; such a one will find nothing in this treatise
subtile or abstracted, and if she should not understand the whole of it,
she will comprehend the substance at least; and that will be sufficient.
Make her read it over many times, and be at the trouble of reading it
with her; allow her the liberty of stopping you at any thing she does
not understand, or of the truth of which she is not convinced; then let
her put these instructions into practice, and if you should observe,
that in talking to the child, she loses sight of the rules which she had
agreed to follow, correct her privately in as mild a manner as possible.
This application will be wearisome to you at first, but if you are the
father or mother of the child, it is your _indispensable_ duty. Besides,
your difficulties will not be of long continuance: your governess, if
she be sensible and well-disposed, will learn more of your method in
a month by practice, than by long arguments; and she will soon be
able to go on in the right way by herself. There will be this further
circumstance to relieve you, that she will find in this little work, the
principal topics of conversation, with children, upon the most important
subjects already detailed for her; so that she will hardly have any
thing to do but to follow them; thus she will possess a collection of
the discourses she should hold with children, upon subjects the most
difficult for them to understand; it is a kind of practical education
which will be an easy guide to her.

You may likewise make excellent use of the _historical catechism_
before-mentioned. Let the person you are forming to educate your
children read it over so often, that it may be familiar to herself, and
that she may enter into the spirit of this method of teaching. It must
be acknowledged, however, that persons of even moderate talents for such
services, are rarely to be met with; and yet nothing is to be done in
education, without a proper instrument for the business; the commonest
things cannot be done of themselves, and they are always ill done by
improper people.--Choose therefore either out of your own family, or
among your tenants, or friends, or from some well-ordered society, some
young woman you think capable of being taught: apply yourself early to
the forming of her for this employment: have her near you for some time,
to make trial of her before you commit to her so important a trust.
Five or six governesses trained in this manner, would soon be able to
instruct a great number of others; many of these would probably fail,
but out of a great number, we might always repair the loss, and not be
so wretchedly compelled, as we continually are, to be seeking for a
variety of teachers.

But though the difficulty of finding governesses is great; it must be
confessed there is another yet greater, which is the _irregularity of
parents_. All the rest will signify nothing, if _they_ do not co-operate
in the business: the foundation of every thing is giving their children
_right notions_ and _edifying examples_: and yet this is only to be
found in very few families; in most, one sees nothing but confusion,
perpetual changes, a heap of servants, who are not only quarreling with
one another, but are the cause of disagreement among their masters
and mistresses. What a woeful school is this for young children! The
mother who passes her time in gaming, at plays, and in indiscreet
conversations, very gravely complains that she cannot find a governess
capable of bringing up her children; but what good can the best of
educations confer on children, with the example of such a mother before
them? One frequently sees parents who themselves carry their children to
public diversions, and other amusements,[19] which cannot fail of giving
them a disrelish for that serious and orderly course of life, in which
these very parents wish to engage them: thus they mix poison with
wholesome diet: they talk indeed of nothing but discretion, but at the
same time they are agitating the flighty imagination of their children,
by the violent impressions of music, and of passionate theatrical
representations, which indispose them for application, give them a taste
for what is passionate, and thereby make them think _innocent_ pleasure
_insipid_; and after all this still expect that the business of
education shall go on well, and consider it as an irksome and austere
thing, if it will not admit of _this mixture of good or evil_. Thus are
they fond of the reputation of being anxious for the good education of
their children, and yet are unwilling to be at the pains of complying
with the most indispensable rules of it.

 [19] I recommend the sensible mother, who has really the happiness
 of her daughter at heart, to peruse and reperuse the excellent
 observations on this head, which are to be found in a little
 pamphlet, lately published by the Rev. Mr. Owen; entitled "The
 Fashionable World Displayed."

Let us conclude with the picture which the wise man has drawn of a
_virtuous woman_.

      "Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above
      rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her,
      so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him
      good and not evil all the days of her life. She seeketh
      wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She
      is like the merchant ships, she bringeth her food from
      afar. She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth
      meat to her household, and a proportion to her maidens. She
      considereth a field, and buyeth it; with the fruit of her
      hands she planteth a vineyard. She girdeth her loins with
      strength, and strengtheneth her arms. She perceiveth that
      her merchandize is good: her candle goeth not out by night.
      She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the
      distaff. She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she
      reacheth forth her hands to the needy. She is not afraid
      of the snow for her household: for all her household are
      clothed with scarlet. She maketh herself coverings of
      tapestry, her clothing is silk and purple. Her husband is
      known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the
      land. She maketh fine linen, and selleth it, and delivereth
      girdles unto the merchant. Strength and honour are her
      clothing, and she shall rejoice in time to come. She
      openeth her mouth with wisdom, and in her tongue is the law
      of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household,
      and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise
      up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth

      Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest
      them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a
      woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. Give
      her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise
      her in the gates."

Though the great difference in manners, and the brevity and boldness of
the figures, make this language obscure at first, yet the stile is so
rich and animated, that we are soon charmed with it on examination. But
what should be further remarked in it, is, that it is the authority of
Solomon, the wisest of men; it is the Holy Spirit itself speaking in
this lofty manner, to recommend to us, in the character of a woman of

H. Ruff, Printer and Publisher, Cheltenham.--1805.


Period spellings have generally been retained even when obsolete, though
some obvious spelling errors were corrected (e.g., eateth replaced
eatheth, pleased replaced peased, think replaced thing). Occasional
missing punctuation has been added.

The original lacked a cover, so one has been supplied by the

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