Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

DETRIMENTAL TO THE CHARACTER OF THE AGED. 95

still further in the work of modernization, and to throw out airy balconies and verandahs from the broken, but inimitably graceful arches, and to perch gilded vanes and cupolas upon the mouldering, and ivy-crowned turrets? Even as little in good keeping, is the attempt to rejuvenilize age.

Were the effects confined to appearances only, however much we might lament on the score of taste, the evil would be of no vast importance; but it is not so—the character and disposition partake largely in the mischief. All that has been alleged against a love of dress in youth, holds good, and with still greater force, in old age. Instead of those serious meditations, which ought to occupy the minds of human beings verging on eternity, the most frivolous cares and thoughts engross every moment. If avarice, the besetting sin of accumulated years, relent, it is to gratify the still stronger cravings of vanity. The heart is closed and seared to the tender sympathies ; while envy, and the spirit of competition, are active as ever. The youthful and the beautiful are, under such circumstances, especially objects of dislike, because possessing still those attractions which frivolous age would purchase at any price. But though youth and beauty can no longer be displayed to the admiring gaze of the multitude, gorgeous apparel and costly gems may; therefore they continue to haunt scenes of gaiety and dissipation-out of humour with themselves and all mankind. Such individuals not only wilfully relinquish the privileges of age, but

bring it into disrepute; so that it has become the fashion to disavow it, as a thing unseemly and reproachful to humanity.

Madame de Stäel, drawing the parallel between amiable and unamiable old age, says, very poetically, “When a well spent life has prepared the way for old age, it is not then the image of decay that is presented to the mind, but the beginning of immortality. He whom time has been unable to overwhelm or debase, receives from it gifts which time alone can bestow; wisdom, all but infallibleinexhaustible charity, and benevolence wholly disinterested.” I will not give the reverse of the picture, because I trust that it is a little exaugerated.

It is said to be very difficult for an actor of eminence to arrive at the knowledge of the precise time when, for his reputation's sake, he ought to take leave of the stage. His friends, out of delicacy, cannot hint it to him; and the consequence is, that he lingers on, loth to depart, until all that constituted his fame has forsaken him, and he exhibits but the shadow of his former self. Equally difficult and delicate would it be to prescribe the precise period when the gaieties of youthful attire should give place to a sober style of dress and deportment. The inroads of time are so insidious, so gradual, and our years, when the meridian of life is past, fly so rapidly, that we are often taken unawares by age--nay, by death itself.

A simple costume, from the first, would obviate

SCRIPTURAL PRECEPTS.

97

this difficulty; there would then be no need, at any period, of any great revolution in our style. Such alteration as might be required would take place so gradually, so naturally, as neither to be felt by those concerned, nor observed by others. Herein lies one of the advantages enjoyed by the elderly Quaker lady. The chaste simplicity of her costume seems equally suitable to youth and age, and she glides from the one to the other imperceptibly. Time seems to make no impression upon her, or, at most, to touch her so lightly, that a comeliness more mature is the only visible result.

It is neither my wish nor intention to recommend the adoption of any distinguishing mark of sect or party, either in dress or any other outward observance; for such, as has been shewn elsewhere, may be converted into a means of gratifying the pride of the human heart. I only contend, generally, for simplicity, as most in accordance with good taste, and, what is of infinitely more importance, with gospel precept. Should it be expected of us to obey to the very letter, I fear that all will be found wanting; but God is merciful, and knows the infirmity of our nature. Jesus said, “Why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, that even Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these,” &c. St. Paul, amidst sundry rules to be observed, says, in his First Epistle to Timothy, “ In like manner, also, that women adorn them

F

selves in modest apparel, with shame-facedness and sobriety; not with broidered hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” St. Peter, in his First General Epistle:

66 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit which is in the sight of God, of great price.”

[ocr errors]

MODERN FEMALE ACCOMPLISHMENTS. Over none of the concerns of life does the ostentation of the present age exercise a more baneful or more decided influence than over female education. As it is the principle upon which the latter is conducted, so also does it appear to be the purpose for which it is conducted. In ostentation the daughters of the land are cradled; to ensure, in due time, an ostentatious establishment, are they reared; so that it may be said, with truth, in it they live, and move, and have their being.

So much, of late, has been written and said on this subject—with what result, remains to be seen —that it may be considered needless to add another mite of observation to the already abounding store. If, however, I can adduce nothing new, I may at least be able to enforce, by repetition and recommendation, the admirable observations and precepts of others. In this persuasion, I gladly avail myself of the present occasion to offer my

CHARACTER AND INTENTION OF THEM.

99

humble testimony to the merits of Mrs. Ellis's excellent little work, “ The Women of England,” whose success, it is encouraging to find, has borne a very fair proportion to its excellence. That its popularity may continue to increase, is my sincere wish, not only out of respect for the author, but also in reference to its extended utility.

Well and justly does Mrs. Ellis observe, that English women have deep responsibilities, and that a nation's moral wealth is in their keeping. On this plea, the importance of the subject, do I rest my claim to attention. Chiefly, however, I wish to shew the detrimental influence of ostentatious education on the destiny and happiness of woman; both of which, I insist, it contravenes. Of the necessity of cultivating the benevolent affections I shall treat hereafter, since they relate equally to both sexes, and are not less indispensable to the one than to the other.

Those branches of knowledge, those superficial branches, which tend to the purpose of display, are the rocks upon which the education of girls is wrecked. The time that is occupied in their acquisition alone precludes the attainment of more profitable information. The mental and physical powers alike become exhausted by such intense, such protracted application. To attain that proficiency in inusic, now deemed essential, is in itself a herculean labour. When music is thus assiduously pursued as a means of subsistence, the achievement, like every other effort of human

« FöregåendeFortsätt »