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ters, and all the innumerable inventions in the arts and sciences. We are every day and every hour reaping the benefit of such talent and ingenuity. The same observation is true of such works as those of Dryden, Pope, Milton, and Shakspeare. Mankind are much happier that such individuals have lived and written;
they add every day to the stock of public enjoyment
and perpetually gladden and embellish life. Now, the number of those who exercise their understandings to any good purpose, is exactly in proportion to those who exercise it at all; but, as the matter stands at present, half the talent in the universe runs to waste, and is totally unprofitable. It would have been almost as well for the world, hitherto, that women, instead of possessing the capacities they do at present, should have been born wholly destitute of wit, genius, and every other attribute of mind of which men make so eminent an use : and the ideas of use and possession are so united together, that, because it has been the custom in almost all countries to give to women a different and a worse education than to men, the notion has obtained that they do not possess faculties which they do not cultivate. Just as, in breaking up a common, it is sometimes very difficult to make the poor believe it will grow corn, merely because they have been hitherto accustomed to see it produce nothing but weeds and grass--they very naturally mistake its present condition for its general nature. So completely have the talents of women been kept down, that there is scarcely a single work, either of reason or imagination, written by a woman, which is in general circulation, either in the English, French, or Italian literature; scarcely one that has crept even into the ranks of our minor poets.
If the possession of excellent talentsis not a conclus sive reason why they should be improved, it at least amounts to a very strong presumption; and, if it can be shown that women may be trained to reason and imagine as well as men, the strongest reasons are certainly necessary to show us why we should not avail ourselves of such rich gifts of nature; and we have a right to call for a clear statement of those perils which
en make it necessary that such talents should be totally thextinguished, or, at most, very partially drawn out.
The burden of proof does not lie with those who say,
Increase the quantity of talent in any country as much de as possible--for such a proposition is in conformity Hot with every man's feelings: but it lies with those who dia say, Take care to keep that understanding weak and and trifling, which nature has made capable of becoming ates strong and powerful. The paradox is with them, not - with us. In all human reasoning, knowledge must be
e taken for a good, till it can be shown to be an evil. 30 But now, Nature makes us too rich and magnificent han presents; and we say to her-You are too luxuriant
and munificent we must keep you under, and prune you;—we have talents enough in the other half of the creation ;-and, if you will not stupify and enfeeble the mind of women to our hands, we ourselves must expose them to a narcotic process, and educate away that fatal redundance with which the world is afflicted, and the order of sublunary things deranged. ,
One of the greatest pleasures of life is conversation;
and the pleasures of conversation are of course enhanced by every increase of knowledge: not that we should meet together to talk of alkalies and angles, or to add to our stock of history and philology--though a little of all these things is no bad ingredient in con
versation, but, let the subject be what it may, there is che always a prodigious difference between the conversa.
tion of those who have been well educated, and of those who have not enjoyed this advantage. Education gives fecundity of thought, copiousness of illustration, quickness, vigour, fancy, words, images, and illustrations ;--it decorates every common thing, and gives the power of trifling, without being undignified and absurd. The subjects themselves may not be wanted, upon which the talents of an educated man may have been exercised; but there is always a demand for those talents which his education has rendered strong and quick. Now, really nothing can be further from our intention than to say any thing rude and unpleasant; but we must be excused for observing, that it is not now a very common thing to be interested by the
variety and extent of female knowledge, but it is a very common thing to lament, that the finest faculties in the world have been confined to tritles utterly unworthy of their richness and their strength.
The pursuit of knowledge is the most interesting and innocent occupation which can be given to the female sex; nor can there be a better method of checking a spirit of dissipation, than by diffusing a taste for literature. · The true way to attack vice, is by setting up something else against it. Give to women, in early youth, something to acquire, of sufficient interest and importance to command the application of their ma. ture faculties, and to excite their perseverance in future life ;-teach them, that happiness is to be derived from the acquisition of knowledge, as well as the gratification of vanity; and you will raise up a much more formidable barrier against dissipation, than an host of invectives and exhortations can supply.
It sometimes happens that an unfortunate man gets drunk with very bad wine,-not to gratify his palate, but to forget his cares: he does not set any value on what he receives, but on account of what it ex. cludes ;-it keeps out something worse than itself. Now, though it were denied that the acquisition of serious knowledge is of itself important to a woman, still it prevents a taste for silly and pernicious works of imagination ;-it keeps away the horrid trash of novels, and, in lieu of that eagerness for emotion and adventure, which books of that sort inspire, promotes a calm and steady temperament of mind.
A man who deserves such a piece of good fortune, may generally find an excellent companion for all the vicissitudes of his life; but it is not so easy to find a companion for his understanding, who has similar pursuits with himself, or who can comprehend the pleasure he derives from them. We really can see no reason why it should not be otherwise; nor comprehend how the pleasures of domestic life can be promoted by diminishing the number of subjects in which persons who are to spend their lives together take a common interest.
One of the most agreeable consequences of know
ledge, is the respect and importance which it communicates to old age. Men rise in character often as they increase in years ;-they are venerable from what they have acquired, and pleasing from what they can impart. If they outlive their faculties, the mere frame itselt is respected for what it once contained; but women (such is their unfortunate style of education) hazard every thing upon one cast of the die ;-when youth is gone, all is gone. No human creature gives his admiration for nothing; either the eye must be charmed, or the understanding gratified. A woman must talk wisely, or look well. Every human being must put up with the coldest civility, who has neither the charms of youth nor the wisdom of age. Neither is there the slightest commiseration for decayed accomplishments :-no man mourns over the fragments of a dancer, or drops a tear on the relics of musical skill. They are flowers destined to perish; but the decay of great talents is always the subject of solemn pity; and, even when their last memorial is over, their ruins and vestiges are regarded with pious affection.
There is no connection between the ignorance in which women are kept, and the preservation of moral, and religious principle; and yet certainly there is, in the minds of some timid though respectable persons, a vague, indefinite dread of knowledge, as if it were capable of producing these effects. It might almost be supposed, from the dread which the propagation of knowledge has excited, that there was some great secret which was to be kept in impenetrable obscurity,
that all moral rules were a species of delusion and imposture, the detection of which, by the improvement of the understanding, would be attended with the most fatal consequences to all, and particularly to women. If we could possibly understand what these great secrets were, we might perhaps be disposed to concur in their preservation ; but, believing that all, the salutary rules which are imposed on women are the result of true wisdom, and productive of the greatest, happiness, we cannot understand how they are to be-, come less sensible of this truth in proportion, as their, power of discovering truth in general is increased, and
the habit of viewing questions with accuracy, and conprehension established by education. There are men, indeed, who are always exclaiming against eyery species of power, because it is connected with danger: their dread of abuses is so much stronger than their admiration of uses—that they would cheerfully give up the use of fire, gunpowder, and printing, to be freed from robbers, incendiaries, and libels. It is true, that every increase of knowledge may possibly render depravity more depraved, as well as it may increase the strength of virtue. It is in itself only power, and its value depends on its application. But, trust to the natural love of good, where there is no temptation to be bad -it operates no where more forcibly than in education. No man, whether he be tutor, guardian, or friend, ever contents himself with infusing the mere ability to acquire; but giving the power, he gives with it a taste for the wise and rational exercise of that power; so that an educated person is not only one with stronger and better faculties than others, but with a more useful propensity-a disposition better cultivated--and associations of a higher and more important class.
In short, and to recapitulate the main points upon which we have insisted.-Why the disproportion in knowledge between the two sexes should be so great when the inequality in natural talents is so small; or why the understanding of women should be lavished upon trifles, we profess ourselves not able to understand. The affectation charged upon female know. ledge is best cured by making that knowledge more general : and the economy devolved upon women is best secured by the ruin, disgrace, and inconvenience which proceed from neglecting it. For the care of children, nature has made a direct and powerful provision ; and the gentleness and elegance of women is the natural consequence of that desire to please, which is productive of the greatest part of civilization and refinement, and which rests upon a foundation too deep to be shaken by any such modifications in education as we have proposed. If you educate women to attend to dignified and important subjects, you are