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country, distinguished in the annals of fame, has not received a part of that distinction from the numbers of women, whom it produced conspicuous for their virtues and their talents? Look at this, in which you live, does it not derive a very considerable share of its reputation from the female pens that eminently adorn it? Look into the history of the world at large; do not you find, that the female sex have, in a variety of ways, contributed largely to many of its most important events? Look into the great machine of society, as it moves before you do you not perceive, that they are still among its principal springs? Do not their characters and manners deeply affect the passions of men, the interests of education, and those domestic scenes, where so much of life is past, and with which its happiness or misery is so intimately blended? Consult your own experience, and confess, whether you are not touched by almost every thing they do or say, or look; confess, whether their very foibles and follies do not often interest, and sometimes please you ?
There cannot, I am persuaded, be many worse symptoms of degeneracy, in an enlightened age, than a growing indifference about the regards of reputable women, and a fashionable propensity to lessen the sex in general. Where this is the case, the decencies of life, the softness of love, the sweets of friendship, the nameless tender charities that pervade and unite the most virtuous form of cultivated society, are not likely to be held in high estimation; and when these fall into contempt, what is there left to polish, humanize, or delight mankind?
FONDNESS FOR FASHION INJURIOUS.
As it is probable that most of you will, after the confinement of the school, of the college, of an apprenticeship, or of whatever other early study, pass much of your time in the company of women, it deeply imports you to consider, with what sort of women you should associate. The infinite mischiefs attendant on communication with those miserable females, who have forfeited their honour, I will not attempt to relate. At present I will take it for granted, that the sons of Reason should converse only with the daughters of Virtue.
Of these last, the number is greater than many of you have been told; much greater than bad men, who judge from bad samples, will ever be persuaded to believe; and even greater than would be readily expected by the candid and virtuous themselves, were they to take their estimate from the general appearance of women in public life, instead of those private scenes where show and noise are excluded, where the flutter of fashion is forgotten in the silent discharge of domestic duties, and where females of real value are more solicitous to be amiable and accomplished, than alluring and admired.
Little, indeed, do those women consult either their own interest, or the reputation of the sex, who enter eagerly into the bustle of the mode, obtrude themselves on the gaze of the glittering throng, and sacrifice the decent reserves, and intellectual attainments, by which men of sentiments and delicacy are most taken, to the passion for dress, and visiting, and splendour, and prattling, and cards, and assemblies, and masquerades without end.
The coxcombs of the age may be caught by such arts of display, as much as those can be who are so generally captivated with themselves. They, no
doubt, will be flattered with what they suppose to be an offering presented at their shrine, a price paid for their admiration. But, depend upon it, my sisters, those men who are formed to be agreeable companions, faithful friends, and good husbands, will not be very forward to chuse their associates and partners for life, from the flaunting train of vanity, or the insipid circle of dissipation. Nor will it always be very easy to convince them, that while the open theatre of the world exhibits so many trivial and insipid characters of the female sex, its more retired situations abound with women of discretion and significance.
For my own share, I will confess, that I should not have thought so favourably in general concerning the fair part of the creation, as I now think, had I formed my opinions on this subject in places of gay resort; where simplicity, softness, a sedate carriage, and rational conversation, must usually give way to the boasted tone, and brilliant, but illusive figure of the society in vogue, which seems to me a composition of frivolous talk, fantastic manners, expensive outside, servile imitation of the mode, incessant amusement, ruinous gaming, and eternal disguise.
May I venture farther, and acknowledge my astonishment, when I have discovered that some sensible and deserving women, who in the country delighted all that came near them, by a style and deportment perfectly reasonable and highly engaging, yet appeared so forgetful of themselves the moment they plunged into the diversions and tumults of the town. Their heads turn round in the whirl of a fashionable life; and their hearts which went forth to their friends in the quiet of retreat, shrunk and vanished out of sight, in scenes where they apprehended that sentiment, affection, confidence, would probably be objects of derision. So then, Ladies, you could resign those sweetest pleasures of the soul, for the reputation of appearing modish: you could bury your better feelings, and relinquish for weeks and for months, your more respectable pursuits, to
mix familiarly and habitually with the herd of inferior beings, that run mad after superficial amusements, and the poorest objects of low-souled ambition.
Do we mean, that you ought to shut yourselves up from all the resorts of what is called Genteel Company, which, to say the truth, is often but another name for well-dressed triflers? We do not mean, we do not wish it. There are situations and connexions which would render it improper. To minds capable of reflection, the pageant, as it passes in review, may occasion many observations on the emptiness and perturbation of all but piety, worth, and heart-felt enjoyment. Nor is it altogether impossible, that a more correct appearance, a more composed address, friendly hints dropped by accident, improving remarks suggested by good sense, without the affectation of unseasonable gravity, may sometimes leave useful impressions where they were least expected. We only complain, that the friends of virtue should ever be so far entangled in the maze of modern impertinence, as to be afraid of living principally to themselves, to one another, and to the noblest purposes of their being.
REMARKS ON PREACHING.
The Preacher, above all other public speakers, ought to labour to enrich and adorn, in the most masterly manner, his addresses to mankind; his views being the most important. What great point has the player to gain? Why, to draw an audience to the theatre. The pleader at the bar, if he lays before the judges and jury, the true state of the case, and gains the cause of his client, which may be an estate, or at most a life, he accomplishes his end. And of the
speaker in a legislature, the very utmost that can be said, is that the good of his country may, in a great measure, depend upon his tongue.
But the infinitely important object of preaching, is the reformation of mankind, upon which depends their happiness in this world, and throughout the whole of their being. And here, if the preacher possesses talents and industry, what a field of eloquence is open before him! The universal and most important interests of mankind! far beyond those for which the thunder of Demosthenes rolled in Athens; far beyond those for which Cicero shook the senatehouse of Rome. It is for him to rouse his auditors to a valiant resistance of the most formidable slavery, of the tyranny which is set up in man's own bosom ; and to exhort his hearers to maintain the liberty, the life, and the hopes of the whole human race for
Of what consequence is it then, that the art of preaching be carried to such perfection, that all may be drawn to places of public instruction, and that those who attend may receive benefit! And if so important a part of preaching be delivery, how necessary must be the study of delivery! That delivery is one of the most important parts of public instruction, is manifest from this, that very indifferent matter well delivered, will make a considerable impression; while bad utterance never fails to defeat the whole effect of the noblest composition ever produ
While exorbitant appetite, and unruly passion within, while evil solicitation, with alluring example without; while these invite and ensnare the frail and thoughtless into guilt, shall virtue and religion hold forth no charms to engage votaries? Pleasure decks herself out with rich attire. Soft are her looks, and melting is the sweetness of her voice. And must religion present herself with every disadvantage? Must she appear quite unadorned? What chance can she then have, in competition with an enemy so much