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engage us, each in his station, to a life of labour.
In the education of a young woman, her condition ought to be regarded, and the situation and cast of life she will probably move in. Take care that her expectations do not exceed her fortune and rank; if they do, they will cost her many sorrows; what would have made her happy, will become disgusting to her, if she has cast a wishful eye on a superior condition. If a girl is to live in the country, turn her attention betimes to the occupations of the country; keep her a stranger to the amusements of the town: shew her the blessings of a simple active life. If her situation be among the middle ranks of the town, let her not come near the people of the court; this intercourse
will only serve to give her unbecoming and ridiculous airs: confine her within the bounds of her own station, and point out to her good examples among those of the same rank: form her mind to what will be the business of her life: teach her the management of a tradesman's family the care that ought to be taken of his income, whether from returns out of the country, or rents of houses in the town: what belongs to the education of her children; in short the whole detail of business or of commerce, into which you foresee she may probably be thrown, when she is married.*
*. What follows, in Fenelon, relating to the religious establishments of women, and taking the veil, is not here inserted—as being wholly inapplicable to the laws and customs of England.
I FOR FORESEE that this plan of education, will pass with many for a chimerical project: it requires, they will say, an uncommon share of discernment, patience, and skill, to carry it into execution: where are the governesses capable of following, or even understanding it? But it should be considered that when we are laying down rules for the best education that can be given to children, we are not to give imperfect rules; it is not matter of reprehension then, that in such an enquiry, we aim at what is most
perfect. It is true, we cannot go so far in practice as our thoughts go upon paper, where they meet with no obstruction; but after all, though we are absolutely unable to arrive at perfection in this business, it will be far from useless to know what perfection is, and to attempt it at any rate; which is the best means of approaching it as nearly as we can. Besides, my rules do not proceed upon the supposition of any thing extraordinary in the disposition of children, or a concurrence of circumstances happily calculated for a perfect education; on the contrary I endeavour to apply remedies to tempers naturally bad, or which have been spoilt: I calculate the common mistakes in education, and have recourse to the most simple methods of correcting,
in the whole or in part, what has absolute need of correction.
It is true, you will not find in this little work, the means of giving success to an education neglected or ill conducted; but is there any thing strange in this? Is it not the most that one can wish, to obtain simple rules, by the observance of which, a good education may be acquired. I confess we may dispense, and do dispense generally, with much less than I propose; but it is likewise very obvious that children suffer materially by this neglect. The road I am pointing out, though tedious in appearance, is in reality the shortest, as it leads directly to the object we are in pursuit of. The other, which is that of fear and of a superficial culture of the understanding, short as it