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domestic and social circle. They thus disregard the present claims of duty, and neglect preparation for the momentous charge which may shortly devolve upon them. They forget that character and conduct alone can secure permanent admiration and attachment, when the roses and lilies of youth have faded, can give solid satisfaction of mind, when the sprightliness of youth has subsided, and will inevitably diffuse their effects through the whole domestic circle, and exert an influence, either beneficial or injurious, that will long survive the individual :
“ It is not beauty, wealth, or fame,
And write it on the heart;
The warm tear made to start.” In the hope of arousing young females to a sense of their responsibilities, and of rendering them some assistance in the intelligent, faithful, and successful discharge of their duties, these pages are penned, with fervent prayer that the mind of the writer may be directed to suitable topics and illustrations, and that the instructions attempted to be conveyed, may be crowned with the Divine blessing.
THE IMPORTANT PERIOD.
As three middle-aged ladies, Mrs. Fleming, Mrs. Norris, and Mrs. Bourne, sat sipping their tea, they naturally fell into that topic which is always interesting to a mother, and a judicious attention to which invariably secures a mother from the danger of becoming a trifling gossip, or a busy mischief-maker, namely, the education and welfare of their children.
“ Pray, Ma'am," asked Mrs. Fleming, addressing herself to Mrs. Bourne,“ do your young ladies finish their education this Christmas ?"
“ No," replied Mrs. Bourne with a smile, “I hope not yet. They have but just begun it.”
“ Indeed!” exclaimed Mrs. Norris; “ I thought Miss Fanny must be getting towards sixteen; and I understand they are both uncommonly clever."
Mrs. B. — Fanny is turned of sixteen, and Anna nearly fifteen. We intend taking them home this half year; but I hope that will not put a period to their education.
Mrs. F.—Very true, Ma'am. Of course the young ladies will go on practising their music, and all that; and it is a happy thing for them that you are so able to perfect them : as to my girls, I tell them they must get it all at school; for I shall never be able to help them. What little I did know, is forgotten long ago; besides, when they come home, I shall want them to help me. I have made myself too much of a slave to my family already, and I do expect a little comfort when my girls come home to share the burden. Their father seems determined to have them home at Lady-day, if not at Christmas. He says he cannot afford to keep them at school any longer. Our eldest son is walking the hospitals, which runs away with a vast deal of money; and there are two more boys that ought to be put to school : at eight and ten years old, it is high time for them to begin their education. Really there is no end to the expenses of bringing up a family.
Mrs. N.-Indeed I think the completion of their education is the most expensive time of all. My Selina left school last Midsummer, and the expense of a piano-forte alone was equal to a year's schooling; besides which, her dress is so much more expensive now she mixes in company; and indeed it makes such an addition to the work, that it almost obliges me to keep a second servant. It really is a most important period, that of girls finishing their education.
Mrs. B.- I cannot at all agree with the common phrase, of girls commencing or finishing their education, as applied to the time of their entering or leaving school, or that of engaging or dispensing with the instructions of a private governess; because it seems to limit the idea of education to a direct application to scholastic pursuits; whereas it appears to me, that education is a training up for future usefulness. Hence, from the very first dawn of reason, all through the periods of childhood and youth, the young are in a course of education for the discharge of the duties of maturer life; and the whole of life itself is a course of preparation for eternity. Every stage of the process is marked with importance ; and I admit, that that period is peculiarly so, at which the direct requirements and restrictions of childhood are withdrawn, and our daughters are in a great degree left to pursue their own improvement, according to their own sense of its value. I trust, that as mothers, we shall each be deeply sensible of our responsibility, and be led to seek much of that discretion which is profitable to direct, and especially of that wisdom which cometh from above."
It is plain, that though on one point these ladies were perfectly agreed, -namely, that it is an important period at which young females leave school,—each of them had her own views of the particulars in which its importance consists. The difference of their views would in all probability operate in producing a very different line of conduct, and lead to very different results, on the future character and influence of their daughters. Nor has the subsequent development of facts at all run counter to this probability.
In the vocabulary of Mrs. Norris and Mrs. Fleming, education signified simply "going to school :" a good education, going to school for a considerable time, and the last year at a more fashionable and higher-priced school, by way of finishing; a better education, going the whole time to a fashionable school; and the best education, going the whole time to the most expensive school, and learning the whole round of accomplishments professed to be taught there. The proof of having received a good education, was to be found in the aggregate of pounds, shillings, and pence, expended on obtaining it. The importance which they attached to the period of leaving school, consisted in the reduction or increase of expenditure, the convenience of themselves and their families, and the introduction of the young ladies to society. With Mrs. Bourne, the phrase “ education" comprehended the formation, cultivation, and discipline of the mind, the affections, and the habits; and, in her view, the peculiar importance of any given period, consisted in the bias given, the course pursued, and the means adopted with reference to ultimate success. “I am anxious," was her sentiment, “ that my children should attain the greatest possible excellence of character ; that they should enjoy and diffuse the greatest possible portion of happiness; that they should be fitted in the best possible manner for meeting the various vicissitudes of life; and, above all, that they should be prepared for the life to come. What sad consequences may result from a single error! and how unspeakably important that every step be wisely and well directed ! How responsible a character does a parent sustain! Who is sufficient for these things? But our sufficiency is of God! “ Lord, what wilt thou have me to do ?”