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.

How then is simplicity of character to be preserved without violating conventionalism, to which it seems so much at variance, and yet, which it ought not to oppose?  By the cultivation of that spirit of which conventional forms are only the symbol, by training children in the early exercise of the kind the benevolent affections, and by exacting in the domestic circle all those observances which are the signs of good-will in society, so that they may be the emanations of a benevolent heart, instead of the gloss of artificial politeness.  Conventionalism will never injure the simplicity of such characters as these, nay, it may greatly add to their influence, and secure for their virtues and talents the reception that they deserve; it is a part of benevolence to cultivate the graces that may persuade or allure men to the imitation of what is right.  “Stand off, I am holier than thou,” is not more foreign to true piety, than “Stand off, I am wiser than thou,” is to true benevolence, as relates to those “things indifferent,” in which we are told that we may be all things to all men.

The cultivation of domestic politeness is a subject not nearly enough attended to, yet it is the sign, and ought to be the manifestation, of many beautiful virtues—­affection, self-denial, elegance, are all called into play by it; and it has a potent recommendation in its being an excellent preservative against affectation, which generally arises from a great desire to please, joined to an ignorance of the means of pleasing successfully.  It is to be hoped that these remarks will not be deemed trifling or irrelevant in a chapter on the means of securing personal influence.  Powers of pleasing are a very great source of that influence, and there is no telling how great might be the benefit to society, if all on whom they are bestowed (and how lavishly they are bestowed on woman!) would be persuaded to use them, not as a means of selfish gratification, but as an engine for the promotion of good.[113] Such powers are as sacred a trust from the Creator as any other gift, and ought to be equally used for his glory and the advancement of moral good.  Virtue, indeed, in itself is venerable, but it must be attractive in order to be influential.  And how attractive it might be, if the powers of pleasing, which can cover and even recommend the deformity of vice, were conscientiously excited in its behalf!  This is the peculiar province of women, and they are peculiarly fitted for it by Nature.  Their personal loveliness, their versatile powers, and lively fancy, qualify them in an eminent degree to adorn, and by adorning to recommend, virtue and religion.

    Cosi all’ egro fanciul porgiamo aspersi
    Di soare licor gli orli del vaso.

FOOTNOTES: 

[113] It was a beautiful idea in the mythology of the ancients, which identified the Graces with the Charities of social life.

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