The Young Lady's Mentor eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 222 pages of information about The Young Lady's Mentor.
young hearts, and expect them to expand and flourish.  The evil effects would be varied according to the different characters submitted to its influence.  The sensitive entered upon life oppressed with fears and terrors; with a conscience morbid, not enlightened; bewildered by the impossibility of reconciling principles and duties.  The ardent and sanguine, longing to escape from restraint, pictured to themselves, in these unknown and untried regions, delights infinite and unvaried; and, seeing the incompatibility of inculcated principles and worldly pleasures, discarded principle altogether.  It is needless to pursue this subject further, because a universal assent will (in this country, at least,) await the remarks here made; their applicability to what follows may not at first be so apparent.  The conventual spirit has survived conventual institutions,—­in the department of female education especially.

In the first place, the instructors of female youth are considered respectable and trustworthy only in proportion as they cease to be young, or at least in proportion as they appear to forget that they ever were so.  Any touch of sympathy for the follies of childhood, or the indiscretions of youth, would blast the prospects of a candidate for that honourable office, and, in the opinion of many, render her unfit for its fulfilment.  The unfitness is attached to the opposite disposition; for the very fact of its existence is as effectual an obstacle to her being a good trainer of youth, as if she had taken a vow never to see the world but through an iron grating.  Experience can never benefit youth, except when combined with indulgence.  The instructor who, from the heights of past temptations and subdued passion, looks down with cool watchfulness on the struggles of his youthful pupil, will see him lie floundering in the mire, or perishing in the deep water.  He must retrace his own steps, take him by the hand, and sustain him, till he is passed the dangerous and slippery paths of youth.  He must become as a little child to the young and frail being committed to his care, and whose welfare and safety depend (in great measure) upon him.  A cold and unloving admiration never will produce imitation:  it is like the hopeless love of poor Helena:—­

    ’Twere all as one as I should love a bright particular star!

Here, then, the conventual spirit has been in injurious operation;—­no less so on other points.

This conventual prejudice has banished from our school-rooms the name of love, and presented to their youthful inmates fragments instead of books, cramped and puny publications instead of the works of master-spirits, lest the mind should be contaminated by any allusion to that passion contained in them.  The wisdom of such a proceeding is much upon a par with that which devoted the feet to stocks and the shoulders to backboards, in order to make them elegant, and denied them heaven’s air and active exercise through

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The Young Lady's Mentor from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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