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the education of women has never been made the fubJect of ferious inquiry by any of the myriads of fcribblers that have infefled the republic of letters fince the days of the famed philofophers of Greece to this moment. Turn over the whole papers of that most excellent periodical work upon manners, the Spectator, and you will find nothing but ftrictures upon the unhappy confequences of a bad education of the fex, but not one fyllable of serious good fenfe on the fubject of amendment. The fame remark is applicable to the paper called the World, the Connoiffeur, Adventurer, Rambler, and fo down to the Mirror, and Observer of the present day. Dr. Gregory indeed left a letter to his daughters, which was published fome years ago, and contains fome good hints for the conduct of young ladies, rather in the line of Chesterfieldian addrefs, than to direct parents how to render their daughters pious, virtuous, amiable, and properly accomplished for the commerce of the world, in fubordination to the duties of a wife, mother, and companion. Dean Swift's famous letter to a young lady on her marriage, though it is by far the moft capital thing I ever faw upon the fubject, yet it proceeds upon what I hope I shall be able to prove is a false position; That women are incapable of becoming truly and logically learned, or of applying the fruits of study to the ufeful purposes of fociety.
Let us confider for a few minutes, Mr. Editor, the confequences that have arifen from the barbarous education of women in all ages as playthings, or housekeepers for gentlemen of fortune, or for mechanics, and we shall be able to fee at a glance, that the whole code of female education must be changed, before Dean Swift's affertion can be verified, or that it can be proved, that it would not be infinitely better, that women in the present state of civilized fociety, fhould have, in almoft every respect, an as truly learned institution as men, in the higher ranks,-and in the lower ranks, be fitted for the practice of fuch of the fine or mechanical arts as are
fuited to their bodily ftrength, and to the decency required in their behaviour.
The faults that have been uniformly ascribed to our fex, as arifing from the feebleness of our frame, are attachment to fenfual pleasures in preference to those of the understanding, fuperftition, bigotry in religion, love of admiration directed to our perfonal charms only, impatience of contradiction, inability to give reafons for our moral or political conduct, attachment to the fplendor of drefs, exceffive curiofity to discover fecrets, and exceffive defire of prying into the trifling bufinefs of our acquaintance, love of public fhows of all kinds in our youth, and attachment to card playing in our old age, &c. &c. All thefe faults, Sir, are evidently the confequence of the want of fubftantial knowledge acquired by regular education, and are equally incident to ill educated men. I speak here feelingly, Sir, from experience, and hope those who have not experienced the fame viciffitudes in life as myself, will be inclined to give me a little credit on this head. Where the pleasures of the imagination, and the pleafures arifing from the acquifition of knowledge are not felt, the pleafures of fenfe must be the only objects of purfuit; and as intellectual delight cannot be procured, without a very great degree of culture and fyftematic education, the mode of educating women in all ages and countries, has effectually precluded them from being what the men are foolish enough to expect. As well might the philofophers of China hold the women in that empire, who are of better condition, cheap, because they cannot walk without difficulty and aukwardnefs. The men of Europe have crushed the heads of the women in their infancy, and then laugh at them, because their brains are not fo well ordered as they would defire.
I am perfectly convinced, that the flate and education of women, is a remain of the feudal fyftem of Afia,—of the tyranny and jealousy of the east, which,
with migration and conqueft has overfpread the rest of world, but which will foon disappear before the light of liberty and learning.
The rights of men begin now to be every where felt, understood, and vindicated; by and bye, I would fain hope, the rights of our fex will be equally understood, and established upon the bafis of a new code of education, suited to the dignity and importance of our fituation in fociety. And it is hard to fay, whether the general welfare of the community will not be as much promoted by this last revolution as by the first. Women will then perhaps receive an education no way differing from that of men, in all things relating to the cultivation of the ra tional powers of the understanding: women in the higher or more opulent ranks of society, will receive every inftruction in the fciences and fine arts, that may render them happy in themselves, agreeable in their families, and useful to fociety. A female profeffor in a college, as at Bologna, will be no longer mentioned as a folecifin, nor Macaulays, Montagues, Carters or Blackburnes be flared at as wonders, or envied by the ladies, and laughed at by the gentlemen.
In the middling ranks, women will be educated to trades fuited to their fex, and behaviour in fociety; of which there are a fufficient number to share them with the other sex without encroachment. Haberdashers, grocers, and every kind of fhop-keeping, watchmaking, and all the nicer operations of the hand in fedentary occupation might be performed by them, whereby the wealth and ftrength of nations would be greatly increased, and a greater militia kept up (without hurting the community) to preferve order at home, and defend the property and honour of nations abroad.
I fhall be told, perhaps, by fome of your correfpondents, that the education of women, and particularly of gentlewomen, is now quite a different affair from what it was formerly; that young ladies are now taught to read English, French, and Italian; to play exquisite
ly on all musical inftruments; to fing, to dance, to draw, to paint, and what not, for filling up their time agreeably, and rendering them interefting to fociety. To this I answer, that without the foundation of grammar, verbal and univerfal, without legic, without the principles of moral and political philofophy, without a just knowledge of univerfal hiftory, chronology, and the study of mathematics, to lay the foundation of thought and of reafoning, all thefe accomplishments, as they are called, in the fex, are no more than the performan. ces of Automatons.--- But perhaps I am running here a little before the spirit of the times. I therefore check my career a little, to take a view of the world as it goes at prefent.
Figure to yourself one of these charming accomplished young ladies, fresh trom fix or feven years culture, at one of the best boarding schools, or out of the hands of the most capital governefs, and the beft inftructors at home, becoming a fashionable mifs, or Lady Mary in the circle of the ton; then married, and a mother. All goes on delightfully for a few years; Mifs, or her la dyship, is exceedingly happy, and, no doubt, much admired; but where are her real refources at home? Is the capable of conducting herself upon found principles. of wisdom? Is the capable of bearing a part in truly rational converfation among men of science, or refpectable and useful members of fociety, either in town or country? What becomes of her alter her beauty and fashion are at an end, which a dozen of years mutt infallibly produce? She then becomes a promoter of pleasures to a new crop of fashionable miffes, under the holy mask of patronage, of chaperonfhip: She betakes herfelf to cards, to continual driving about from party to party; or the turns Demirep or Methodist, or fome frange thing or other, to prevent her from feeling that horrid languor which must ever accompany the want of real bufinefs, where true fcience and the fatisfaction Cof rational curiofity does not interpofe their aid to obviate the dreadful confequences of idleness!
This miferable woman, who looked fo charming, was fo gay and happy, and was fo wonderfully accomplished ten years ago, is now a troublesome, difcontented, capricious, diffipated old cat, that cannot be endured even by her moft fervile dependants. In town, she is continually chagrined; in the country, fhe dies of the vapours, or must go to Summer races, to Buxton, Harrogate, or fome place of public refort, or take a jaunt to the Cumberland lakes; and, in fhort, muft either have recourfe to continual amufement, to opium, or the clofet.
Is there a family in Europe, Sir, that hath not experienced, or that is not at this moment experiencing in fome degree the dreadful truth of my observations.
Mothers, it is to you that I ought to addrefs myself. Unfortunately it is too late for you to remedy the miffortunes of your own prepofterous education; but you may, by your influence, remedy them in your daughters. With refpect to yourselves, if diffipation, and the prefent reigning manners of Europe have left any part of yourselves behind, give me leave to recommend to you the mature confideration of the following advice of Dean Swift in the letter above mentioned.
"If you are in company with men of learning, though they happen to difcourfe of arts and sciences, out of your compass, yet you will gather more advantage by liftening to them, than from all the nonfenfe and frippery of your own fex; but if they be men of breeding as well as learning, they will feldom engage in any conversation where you ought not to be a hear er; and in time have your part. If they talk of the laws, manners, and cuftoms of the feveral kingdoms of Europe, of travels into remoter nations, of the state of their own country, or of the great men of Greece or Rome; if they give their judgment upon English and French writers, either in verfe or profe, or of the nature and limits of virtue and vice, it is a fhame for an