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to cherish their vanity; they have a passionate fondness for novels, plays, narratives of romantic adventures, in which licentious love occupies a prominent place; in fine, by habituating themselves to the high-flown language of the heroes of romance, their heads are filled with visionary notions. In this way, they even render themselves unfit for society; for all these fine sentiments, these generous passions, these adventures which the author of the romance has invented to gratify the imagination, have no connection with the true motives that excite to action and control the
interests of society, or with the disappointments invariably attendant on human affairs.
A poor girl, full of the tender and the marvellous, which have charmed her in the perusal of such works, is astonished not to find in the world real characters resembling these heroes; she would wish to live like those imaginary princesses, who in the fictions of romance are always charming, always adored, always placed beyond the reach of necessary duties. What must be her disgust, when
compelled to descend from these flights of fancy to the humble details of domestic life!
There are some who carry this inquisitive spirit still farther, and undertake, however incompetent they may be, to decide on points in religion; but those who have not sufficient enlargement of mind to indulge in a curiosity of this kind, fix upon other subjects proportioned to their capacities; they eagerly desire to know everything that is said or done ;—a song, a story, an intrigue, is always welcome; they are fond of receiving letters, and of reading those which others receive; they wish to hear and to repeat everything; they are vain, and vanity renders them loquacious; they are inconsiderate, and levity prevents those reflections that would often make them silent.
In the application of a remedy to all these evils, it is of vast importance that the education of girls should commence in their earliest infancy. This first period, which is resigned to the charge of injudicious, and, sometimes, of profligate females, is, notwithstanding, that in which the deepest impressions will be made, and which, consequently, has an important bearing on their whole future life.
Before children are completely able to speak, they may be prepared for instruction. This may perhaps appear an extravagant assertion; but to render it credible, it is only needful to consider how an infant is employed, while it is yet unable to talk. It is
learning a language which it will soon speak with more correctness than scholars are able to attain in speaking the dead languages, which they have studied with so much labor in the most mature age. Now, in what consists the process of learning a language? Not merely in committing to memory a great number of words, but also in observing the meaning of each word in particular. The infant, says St. Augustine, in the midst of its cries and its sports, observes of what object each word is the sign; this it does, sometimes by considering the natural motions which point out the subjects of conversation, and sometimes by remarking the frequent repetition of the same word, to signify the same object. It is true that the mental constitution of infants gives them a wonderful facility of impression from sensible objects; but, surely, steady attention must be requisite, to distinguish these objects from each other, and to give to each its appropriate term.
Consider also, how, from this tender age, children seek those who gratify them, and
avoid those who place them under restraint ;how well they know when to cry, and when to be silent, in order to obtain the object of their wishes; how much artifice and jealousy they already begin to discover.
It may then be assumed as a principle, that children know more than is ordinarily imagined; it is in your power, therefore, to communicate to them, through the medium of words, assisted by tones and gestures, the inclination to be with virtuous persons, rather than with others for whom they might be in danger of contracting a fondness. You may, beside, by a different expression of countenance, and by the tone of your voice, represent to them the horror with which you regard those whom they have seen in a fit of passion, or guilty of any other excess; you can also assume a gentler tone and a more benignant aspect, to signify to them your admiration for any instances they may have seen of wisdom and modesty. I do not notice these things as being of great importance, but simply to show that these early