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Of proper Degrees of Liberty and Red Araint in the Education of Daughters, illustrated by Examples.
TT is necessary that Youth should be laid
under some Restraint. When our Inclinations are violent and our Judgment weak, it was a wise Provision of God our Creator, that we should be under the Conduct of those who were born before us; and that we should be bound to obey them, who have an innate Sollicitude for our Happiness, and are much fitter to judge for our Advantage, than we ourselyes can be in that early Part of Life.. · But it may be faid, Liberty is so glorious a Blessing, that surely it ought not ut: terly to be taken away from the Young, left their Spirits be cramped and enslaved, and the growth of their Souls so stinted by à narrow and severe Restraint,' that they act all their Lives like Children under Age. Or sometimes a too rigid Confinement will have the contrary Effect, and make the Impatience of Youth break out beyond all Bounds, as soon as ever they get the first Relish of Freedom,
But I how exceeding difficult it is to hit the middle Way! How hard for Parents to inanage their own Authority with so much Gentleness, and to regulate the Liberties of the Children with so wise a Dir. cipline, as to fall into neither Extreme, nor give unhappy Occasion for Cenfure! Though I have spoken my Opinion freely, that it is safer to err on the side of Restraint, than of excessive Indulgence.
ANTIGONĚ had an excellent Mother, but she died young: Antigone, with her elder Sister, from their very Infancy were placed under a Grandmother's Care. The good old Gentlewoman trained them up precisely in the Forms in which she herself was educated, when the Modes of Breeding had (it must be confessed) too much Narrowness and Austerity. She gave them all the good Instructions she had received from her Ancestors, and would scarce ever suffer them to be out of her Sight. She saw the Eldest well married at five and twenty, and settled in a Course of Virtue and Religion : She found her Zeal and pious Care attended with Success in several of her Posterity, and the departed this Life in Peace.
But unhappy Antigone took a different Turn: She was let loose into the World with all her Poffeffions and Powers in her own Hand; and falling into vain Company,
The she got such a Taste of unbounded Liberty and modish Vices, that she could never reflect upon the Method of her own Education without angry Remarks or Ridicule.
When the came to have Children of her own, the still retained the Resentment which she had conceived at the Conduct of her Grandmother, and therefore the resolved that her Daughters should be bred up in the other Extreme.
“In my younger Times (laid Me) we " were kept hard to the Labour of the “ Needle, and spent fix Hours a Day at it, « as though I were to get my Bread by my “ Finger's Ends; but a little of that Busi" nefs shall serve these Children, for their “ Father has left them good Fortunes of • their own.
“ We were not suffered to read any « Thing but the Bible and Sermon-Books ; " but I shall teach mine politer Lessons out er of Plays and Romances, that they may " be acquainted with the World betimes.
“ My elder Sifier was scarce ever allowi ed to speak in Company till the was mar“ ried, and it was a tiresome Length of “ Years before that Day came. The old “ Proverb ran thus, That a Maiden must be “ seen, and not heard : But I hope my little “ Daughters will not be dumb. .
“ We were always confined to dwell at " Home, unless some extraordinary Occa
« fion called us abroad, perhaps once in a “ Month, or twice in a Summer. We “ were taught to play the good Housewise " in the Kitchen and the Pastry, and were .“ well instructed in the Conduct of the “ Broom and Dufter ; but we knew no66 thing of the Mode of the Court, and the “ Diversions of the Town. I should be e ashamed to see these young Creatures “ that are under my Care, fo aukward in. “ Company at fourteen as I was at four and “ twenty.”
AND thus Antigone brought up her young Family of Daughters agreeably to her own loose Notions; for (he had forined her Sentiments of Education merely from the Aversion she had conceived to the Way of her Elders, and chose the very reverse of their Conduct for her Rule, because their Piety and Wisdom ha! a little Allay of Rigour and Stiffness attending it.
The young Things, under their Mother's Eye, could manage the Tea-Table at ten Years old, when they could scarce read a Chapter in the New Testament. At fourteen they learned the Airs of the World; they gad abroad at their Pleasure and will hardly suffer Antigone to direct them or go with them; they despise the old Woman betimes, for they can visit without her Attendance, and practle abundantly without her prompting.
She led or sent them to the Playhouse twice or thrice a Week, where a great Part of their natural Modesty is worn off and forgotten: Modesty, the Guard of youthful Virtue! They can talk Love-Nories out of Cleopatra; they are well practised already in the Arts of Scandal, and for want of better Furniture of Mind, Emptiness and Impertinence, Ribbands and Fashions, gay Gentlemen and wanton Songs ever dwell upon their Tongue. They have been taught so little to set a Guard upon themselves, that their Virtue is much fufpected. But (be that as it will) they are seized and married before sixteen, being tempted away to bind themselves for Life, io å laced Coat and a fashionable Wig: Thus Children set up at once to govern a Family; but so ignorant in all those Concerns, that from the Garret to the Kitchen, the whole House is entirely ruled by the Humour of the Servants, because the young Mistress knows not how to instruct or cor, rect them. There is neither Religion nor Prudence among them at Home or abroad. Thus they make Haste to Ruin and Misery in this World without Thought or Hope of the World to come, and the Heaven or the Hell'that await us there.
ANTIGONE sees her own Mistake too late; and though she has not so just a Sense and Horror of their loose and prophane Life as would become her Years, yet she is vexed