Imágenes de páginas

perhaps treated with the utmost cruelty and neglect. Every young woman, no matter how great her expectations or possessions, may be destined to meet such a fate as this. She will be best prepared for the crisis, who has the best practical knowledge of affairs, of the various cares and duties, which may, by any possibility, fall to the lot of woman. And I should consider the labor of composing these lectures amply repaid if I were persuaded that they would be the means of inducing one young lady to resolve that she would thoroughly accomplish herself in all household duties. The Jews had a custom, which cannot be too much commended, of adding to the most finished education, the practical knowledge of some trade, so that the great and the noble might have a resource, if deprived of their possessions, which would prevent their becoming utterly helpless and desperate. It was this practice which gave the noble Apostle of the Gentiles, high born and liberally educated as he was, the glory of preaching the gospel, while with his own hands he ministered to his necessities.

But let it not be supposed from what I have now said, that I am a Utilitarian in the narrow and bigoted sense of that term, that I would exclude the accomplishments, or even that I think them of little worth. I would have woman agreeable as well as useful. Nay, the agreeable is the useful in the highest sense. Every thing is useful, which innocently ministers to human happiness. Accomplishments do thus minister to the most blameless enjoyment. Let a girl be taught music, and dancing, and drawing, if she have a taste for it, though of the latter I entertain more doubt. Let her have every accomplishment which will enable her to adorn, delight and enjoy society.

I am no enemy to the pleasures of refined society. I only oppose its follies and its abuses. I am opposed to its abuses for the very reason that I esteem and value its uses. I look with sorrow on its extravagant expense and ridiculously late hours, only because I consider such perversions as calculated to destroy the pleasures and the usefulness of that, which is in itself good. We are not made only to toil. We are made likewise to enjoy its rewards. There is a generous impulse to impart the avails of our labor to others. We are not made for selfish, solitary

enjoyment. We increase our pleasures by sharing them with others. Society

Society is an instinct. When we are happy, we call together our friends and neighbors, saying, “Rejoice with us.” That most exquisite parable of the prodigal son, an emanation of celestial power and beauty, makes, without blame, that joyful event, the return of the lost one, to be celebrated with music and dancing; and even the kingdom of heaven itself is represented under the similitude of a feast. Our Saviour ministered by his first miracle to the festivities of a wedding, and he did not refuse that mark of hospitable respect, a supper,

in the family which he most loved. The expression of social and benevolent feeling by some emphatic action, is the most effectual way to cultivate and strengthen that feeling. The same feeling of mutual respect, and desire to confer pleasure, bids us receive our friends with such decorations of the rites of hospitality as our circumstances can afford. Such a use of wealth, so far from being immoral, I am inclined to consider as among the noblest and the best. If any one is disposed to object, "Why this waste, why were not these things sold, and the money given

to the poor," he must remember that this objection is taken from the mouth of Judas Iscariot. We have higher authority for saying, that the expense is not thrown away which expresses generous and noble sentiments. The pleasures of society and hospitality are the just and proper rewards of those who toil. Every generation has a right to spend its own money, and is by no means bound to deny itself that the next may live in idleness.

Society, when enjoyed in moderation, is the natural and innocent means of refreshing the spirits after the exhaustion of labor and care. To the pleasures of society they can best contribute who still enjoy the rich endowments of youth, health, beauty, grace and vivacity. We would not have them prematurely old. They are what they are, beautiful, joyous, graceful for the very purpose of enlivening this sad and sombre world, just as childhood is made with an exuberance of animal spirits, that by its noisy sports and shouts of gladness, it may drive away gloom from that apartment where sits age in silence and despondence. Let woman then be so educated as to enjoy to the utmost those pleasures which are appropriate to youth,

years draw

before the evil days come, and the nigh when she shall say, “I have no pleasure in them.”

Music is certainly one of the most blameless and refined of all enjoyments. It seems to be just so much innocent pleasure created out of nothing. It is as it were a voice from the Universal Harmony, speaking to us from the invisible world. Like Poetry it is certainly in alliance with the better part of our nature. The ancient fable that Orpheus tamed and drew after him the wild beasts of the wood by the strains of his lyre, is nothing more than a symbolical representation of the fact, that when the spell of Music is upon us, the bad passions are hushed in profound repose, and the good affections awake and entrance the soul with visions of whatever of good, and great, and tender, and beautiful we have ever experienced or imagined. Then pass

with the distinctness and reality of a dream, the long lost scenes of youth and home. Then forms and faces reappear that have long since been hid in darkness, and eyes beam upon us with more than living tenderness and intelligence, which now are quenched in death. The soul for a moment

before us,

« AnteriorContinuar »