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The wisdom of God has divided mankind into families-communities of such a size and peculiar structure as to render them conveniently manageable by those who are its natural heads, and whose authority is sweetened to its subjects, as is the toil of its exercise to themselves, by the strongest instincts of our nature.
But if you take a company of individuals characterized by the same diversities as the members of a family, the y ung, and the old, the inexperienced, and the experienced, the weak, and the strong; and place them, out of the relations of the natural family, into other relations of man's institution and devising, in the expectation that such of them as need it shall be instructed in economy and industry, and the ten thousand little things-not little in importance—which constitute what we call good breeding, you deprive yourself of nature's help where it is indispensable; and are consequently laying up for yourself the reward which must ever follow every experiment of that impious quackery which presumes to set aside the laws of Heaven's ordaining, -disappointment and shame.
The best part of a good education is to be obtained at home, within the domestic circle, under the inspection of the parent's eye, and the influence of the parent's example. Yet, there are parents, who are not insane in other matters, who act, in regard to the education of their children, as if they believed the arrangements of nature were the freaks of chance; or rather, as if they expected the order and economy of nature were to be reversed
* See an Address on the subject of Common School Education, delivered at Indianopolis, January 3, 1837.
336 Woman should be taught Housekeeping. to flatter their indolence. They uttterly neglect the government of their children, suffer them to go where and when they please, to saunter about the streets and public places, to associate with whoever they may chance to fall in with-no restraint--no employment-gratified in every whim, appetite, passion, propensity: and then, when these same hopeful lads are sent to college, or boarding school, they expect the teacher will do a miracle without parental authority, they expect him to effect what they have not done, with it; nay more-to undo what they have done, to root up the vices they have implanted; to teach those industry whom they have nurtured in idleness-to inculcate maxims and principles of prudence, temperance and frugality in those whom they have brought up in folly, intemperance and prodigality; and to inspire with an ardor for pursuits requiring the utmost application and diligence, those whom they have taught to consider themselves as above labor of every kind! Preposterous people! To expect us to bestow gifts by nature denied to their children, were less extravagant.
Degeneracy begins with woman : the influence that regenerates begins with her also. She stands at the fountain head of moral power, and without her aid in the matter before us, nothing effectual can be done. But to come to the point. Our females must be taught in the first place how to keep house. I speak designedly in homely phrase, because it suits my subject, and I wish to express myself briefly and yet intelligibly to all.
Let those who prefer elegance to comfort, and who can afford the expense of such folly, teach their daughters Languages, ancient and modern, Painting and instrumental Music, Poetry and Rhetoric, Oratory and Calisthenics--and they may add if they please, Mechanics, Mensuration, Trigonometry, Astronomy, Hydrostatics, Hydraulics, Optics-Natural Philosophy in all its branches-Chemistry, Physiology, Mental and Moral Phi· losophy, the science of Government, Political Economy, Grammar, Logic, Philology, Sculpture, Architecture and the art of Landscape, Phrenology, and whatever else they please—but since every man who wants a wife and who has not the stomach of an ostrich, cannot long be pleased with a woman who, when he comes home hungry and tired, serves bim up a dish of biscuit, in color, form and weight resembling long bullets, with other articles of food, good it may be in the material, but miserably spoiled in the preparation ; since, I say, this is clear to a demonstration, then it follows that every young female should know how to bake a loaf of bread.
O what virtue there is in a well raised, well baked, three days old wheaten loaf! Blessings on the heart and head and hands
Importance of this Art.
of those mothers of Israel, who, when young, learned so much of the art of chemistry—and disdained not to add thereto so much of the still more needful art of kneading and baking, as is necessary to the production of the precious article.
I do not trifle. Tobe poisoned is a serious matter : and poisoned that man is sure to be, and his children too, whose wife is a slattern and unskilled in the culinary art. I need not insist on what every one must have observed, that indigestion, with those numerous diseases which spring from it, and spread misery and death among so many families, has its origin, chiefly, in their habit of feeding on things which kind nature indeed designed for the use of man, but in regard to which nature has been baffled and her designs frustrated by the cook. But on this do I insist, that much of that intemperance, which has broken the heart of so many females throughout the land, may be traced to the same source. The hungry man eats, but he eats indigestibles. The pain of appetite is indeed stayed, but his stomach feels another pain, from having to act upon that, which to master is too hard for the stomach of man or dog, and the miserable sufferer goes to the bottle for relief, and is undone.
But further still: the physical condition of man, in every stage of his earthly existence, is not only intimately connected with his comfort and health, but with his moral feelings; so that a child accustomed to roll in filth, like a pig in a stye, can hardly be expected to have afterwards a taste for what is
in conduct, or comely in manners. As idleness, moreover, is usually the source and companion both of physical and moral impurity, it is of vast importance that every mother should know how to find employment for the subjects of her charge.
These few remarks must suffice to show that those females, who are destined to take upon themselves the labors and cares of a family, should be brought up in such a way as shall best qualify them for the difficult and important office. And this is the more indispensable with us, because such is the state of our social relations, that each family must perform, without foreign aid, the entire business that belongs to it. Such parents as do not accustom their daughters to the active duties of the domestic circle, and who are not able to give them such dowry as will render them independent, would best consult their happiness and the public good by keeping them single.
But, important as are the arts and habits which go to constitute a good housewife—and when we consider their influence upon the happiness and improvement of our species, they can hardly be estimated too highly-- there is another branch of female education which is of still higher importance. I refer to
Piety, and a Mother's Love.
the cultivation of the understanding and the heart. On the first of these I have no time to enlarge. After the useful, let our daughters learn as much of the ornamental as circumstances and capacity will admit. And let them take the solid with the ornamental, that they may become “as stones polished after the similitude of a palace.”
But let it be ever remembered, that the noblest, the most indispensable of all accomplishments in a woman, especially in a woman who is a mother, is piety, enlightened piety. Whatever else be present, if this be absent from her character, the defect makes it look monstrous and shocking. For the two first years of its life, the infant can hardly be considered as having a personality of its own. It is an appendage, I had almost said a part of the mother. Its little heart lies in close contact with hers, and throbs with its emotions. Her image fills its fancy. She is its model. It is the wax, she the seal.
The alphabet of piety is easier than the alphabet of letters. The one belongs to the language of nature, and has an interpreter in every bosom : the other is conventional and artificial, and a variety of abstractions must be made before it can be understood. The child in the cradle knows the meaning of looks and tones by a kind of intuition which the experience of after life scarcely renders more perfect. And it is by a language of the same kind that the Author of nature speaks to his rational offspring. How important that the Divine voice reach the youthful heart before it becomes hardened and estranged by the vices and cares and pleasures of after life! And how happy would it be for many whose feelings have become alienated from God and religion, by worldly pursuits and a false philosophy, if they could reverse the course of their experience, and become “ little children" again !
There is, in the character of every eminently good man an affectionate sweetness of temper not to be soured by injury, a simplicity which seeks no disguise, a charity which “thinketh no evil,” and a fearlessness in the discharge of duty. These carry with them the charm of a childlike purity and innocence, and they spring from no other root but piety. Let this then be instilled into the mind before the acetous fermentation takes place among the passions, and it will preserve the soul in its infantine sweetness. But by no instrumentality can this be so well effected as by that of a mother's love. A mother's love, and the spirit of piety! O, they are the sweetest, purest, brightest, mightiest of those messengers which God commissions and sends to accomplish his purposes of mercy here on earth ; and if any thing can, surely their united influence must win the wayward soul of man for that happy world whence they descended.
Tyranny of Fashion.
The wretch, who has had their sweet influence, like the breath of Heaven, shed over his childhood, and who has made himself strong enough to overcome it, is a reprobate, abandoned, doomed, accursed of God. I have never yet seen such a man, and I would hope that no such instance of depravity can be found. On the other hand I may ask, confident of a favorable answer from a thousand grateful tongues, who has not been reclaimed from the verge of guilt, animated in the midst of danger, and supported in the hour of affliction by a mother's counsel, a mother's example, and a mother's prayers; and who, while bending in sad but fond recollection over a mother's tomb, has not sensibly felt the heavenward attraction of a mother's spirit, as his thoughts attempted to trace the path by which it soared away beyond mortal vision when it left the world?
Nor is the influence of sensible and pious women confined to those who are placed by nature under their own particular charge. A deep but unostentatious sense of religion, added to the domestic virtues, imparts to the person and conduct of woman a grace and dignity which surpass all her other charms, and repel not merely from her presence, but from the circle of her influence, whatever is unseemly and improper.
We have, all of us, duties to discharge which respect the future. Our circumstances are rapidly changing. As wealth increases, our dangers as well as our advantages will increase with it. The follies and vices of what is called fashionable life, are migrating along with the tide of wealth and population, from the east towards the west. Should I disguise the fact that in these things the fair sex usually take the lead ? Fashion, in some of our eastern cities, has already established her reign of terror, and set up her Juggernaut. She applies instruments of torture to the bodies of her victims, by which they are compressed to the form of a wasp; and thus deformed, heart and lungs, and other vital organs literally crushed within them, they are compelled to drag out a miserable existence, devoid of every comfort. Physicians, moralists, philanthropists and divines have remonstrated, and petitioned, and entreated, but in vain. The cruel power is inexorable. Now, I know of no means of preventing her horrible dominion from extending over us, so likely to succeed, as by giving to our young females a pious education. Enlightened piety raises the mind and character of women above the frivolity and inanity, to the prevalence of which fashion, that bloody Moloch to which so many young lives are sacrificed, is indebted for all that influence which support her cruel and remorseless reign. To escape with their rising families from under her dominion was the principal motive which induced some