Page images

useful knowledge. Instead of losing time by pe. rusing novels and plays, in which so many take delight, and by which so many are actually rendered dissolute, how much better to see them employed in studying the pages of history, of grammar, of morality, of useful literature in general, and of religion! And here I cannot help recommending to my female readers, Mrs. Hannah Moore's admirable Strictures on Education; " which (says Dr. Porteus, the present Bishop of London) presents to the reader such a fund of good sense, of wholesome counsel, of sagacious observation, of a knowledge of the world and of the female heart, of high-toned morality and genuine Christian piety; and all this enlivened with such brilliancy of wit, such richness of imagery, such variety and felicity of allusion, such neatness and elegance of diction, as are not, I conceive, easily to be found so combined and blended together in any other work in the English language.” See the bishop's charge to his clergy in 1798, 1799.

Industrious Females.I once knew a lady (observes one,), noble by birth, but more noble by her virtues, who never sat idle in company, unless when compelled to it by the punctilio of ceremony, which she took care should happen as rarely as possible. Being a perfect mistress of her needle, and having an excellent taste in that as in many other things, her man. ner, whether at home or abroad with her friends, was to be constantly engaged in working something useful or something beautiful; at the same time that she assisted in supporting the conversa. tion with an attentionand capacity which I have

never seen exceeded. For the sake of variety and improvement when in her own house, some one of the company would often read aloud, while she and her female visitants were thus employed. I must add, that during an intimate acquaintance of several years, I do not remember to have seen her once driven to the polite necessity of either winning or losing money at play, and making her guests defray the expence of the entertainment.

What a happy simplicity prevailed in-antient times, when it was the custom for ladies, though of the greatest distinction, to employ themselves in useful and sometimes laborious works! Every one knows what is told us in scripture to this purpose concerning Rebecca, Rachel, and several others. We read in Homer of princesses draw. ing themselves water from springs, and washing with their own hands the finest of the linen of their respective families. The sisters of Alexander the Great, who were the daughters of a powerful prince, employed themselves in making clothes for their brothers. The celebrated Lucretia used to spin in the midst of her female at. tendants. Among the Romans, no citizen of any note ever appeared in public in any garb but what was spun by his wife and daughters. It was a Custom in the northern parts of the world, not many years ago, for the princesses who then sat upon the throne, to prepare several of the dishes at every neal. The depravity of the age has indeed affixed to these customs an idea of meanness and contempt; but, then, wliat has it substituted in the room of them? A soft indolence, a stupid idleness, frivolous conversation, vain amusements, a strong passion for public snows, and a frantic love of gaming

The habits of indusir', says an elegant female writer, Cannot be 100 Carly, ivo sedulously formed. Let not the sprightly and the brilliant reject. industry as a plebian quality ; as a quality to be exercised only by those who have their bread to earn, or their fortune to make It is the quality to which the immortal Newton modesily ascribed his own vast attainments; wlio, when he was ask. ed by what means he had been enabled to make that successful progress which struck mankind with wonder, replied, that it was not so much owing to any superior strength of genius, as to an habit of patient thinking, laborious attention, and close application. Industry is the sturdy and hard-working pioneer, who, by persevering labour, removes obstructions, overcomes difficul. ties, clears intricacies, and then facilitates the march and aids the victories of genius.

Useful Females. It is said of the wife of the learned Budæus, that, so far from drawing him from his studies, she was sedulous to animate him when he lan. guished. Ever at his side, and ever assiduous, ever with some useful book in her hand, she acknowledged herself to be a most happy woman. Budæus was not insensible of his singular felici: ty: he called her the faithful companion, not of his life only, but of his studies.

We owe, it is said, to the wife of Judge Croke, and her superiority of soul; we owe to the virtue of this woman, and her disregard of selfish consi. derations, in comparison of the honour and duty of her husband, the immortal decision in the case of ship-money; a decision which fixed one of the

si p. Whitelochist his jusion fór.

bulwarks of our constitution; a decision of more durable and certain worth than a thousand tri. umphs. She told her husband, who had resolved to give his opinion for this new claim of prerogative, that“ She hoped he would do nothing against his conscience, for fear of any danger or prejudice to him or his family; and that she would be contented to suffer want or any misery with him, rather than be an occasion for him to do or say any thing against his judgment or conscience.” Vide Whitelock's Memorials, 25. Macaulay, vol. xi. p. 226, 227.

We owe to the virtue of another admirable woman (Queen of Edward III) that one of the most illustrious of kings did not, at the siege of Calais, eclipse the lustre of his conquest by a cruelty which would for ever have been a disgrace to our annals. The king, having turned the siege into a blockade, was greatly incensed at their obsti. nate resistance, which had detained him eleven months under their walls. At length however, he consented to grant their lives to all the garrison and inhabitants, except six of the principal bur. gesses, who should deliver to him the keys of the city with ropes about their necks. When these terms were made known to the people of Calais, they were plunged into the deepest distress; and, after all the miseries they had suffered, they could not think without horror of giving up six of their fellow citizens to certain death. In this extremi. ty, when the whole people were drowned in tears, and uncertain what to do, Eustace De Pierre, one of the richest merchants in the place, stepped forth, and voluntarily offered himself to be one of these six devoted victims. His noble example



was sooni' imitated by five others of the most wealthy citizens. These true patriots, bare footed and bare headed, with ropes about their necks, were attended to the gates by the whole inhabi. tants, with tears, blessings, and prayers, for their safety. When they were brought into Edward's presence they laid the keys of the city at his feet, and falling on their knees, implored his. mercy in such moving strains, that all the noble spectators melted into tears. The king's resentment was so strong for the many toils and losses he had suffered in this tedious siege, that he was in some danger of forgetting his usual humanity; when the queen, falling upon her knees before him, earna estly begged and obtained their lives. This great and good princess. conducted these virtuous citizens, whose lives she had saved, to her own aparta ment, entertained them honourably, and dismissed them with presents..

It is said of Queen Mary II, that she ordered good books to be laid in the places of attendance, that persons might not be idle while they were in their turns of service. She gave her minutes of leisure to architecture and gardening, and since it employed many hands, she said, she hoped it would be forgiven her.

How peculiarly useful may females be in a domestic state ! In many cases, observes one, the opinion of the wife may be preferable to that of our own. Their judgment may be less clouded by interest; they stand back from the objects we are too near; they are cool and calm ; we, by being in the scene, are ruffled and inflamed: An eminent minister a few years ago, in a publica. tion, declared to the world, that he had never, in:

« EelmineJätka »