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Her very virtues may degenerate into weakness; her noblest and purest impulses, unrestrained by principle, may lead her into misery. Happily for her she has a Guide more unerring than ships' compasses—a Guide and Guard that, duly consulted, will enable her to make the voyage of life in safety.
But, as the experienced mariner would feel inclined to give the benefit of his experience and advice to the young captain starting on his first voyage in command, so I have ventured to impart to the youthful of my own sex some knowledge of the rocks on which they are most likely to founder—the dangers to which they will most certainly be exposed.
The contents of this work may appear to be miscellaneous, and some subjects trivial, which I treat as important; but we have only to examine the life of one human being to see how much of his happiness or misery has resulted from things apparently unimportant. Trifles are, with many, the sum of human things.
To those subjects which claim the attention
of every young gentlewoman I have added chapters, especially addressed to such as are under the necessity of earning their own living: how numerous is this class we all know, and few of us but have seen, even in our own immediate circle, instances of the mutability of fortune. When reverses come to such as have been nursed in the lap of luxury, they are doubly trying; but whatever the difficulties with which we may be surrounded, the counsels of a friend, of one who has passed through the same scenes, and experienced the same dangers, can hardly fail to be acceptable. My counsels, such as they are, are the result of experience, and not of speculation; a fact which may be allowed to give them some value in the eyes of those to whom they are addressed.
For adding yet another to the many works addressed to young ladies, I have but one apology to offer. It has always appeared to me that the girls of the present day have too much sentiment, too much fanciful refinement for their own peace. I have thought that their every
day life would be infinitely happier, and the character of English women be very greatly improved if they possessed a little of the common sense which distinguishes the character of English men. Those on whose judgment and knowledge of the world I could entirely rely have approved of my views, and urged me to develope them in print. To be of the slightest service to my young countrywomen is an honour, to attain which any toil would be light. Such as my views are, therefore, I give them to the world; and should their adoption increase the happiness of but one domestic circle, my labour will be abundantly rewarded.
LONDON, November, 1854.
Maternal Counsels to a Daughter.
LIFE AND ITS OBJECTS.
Well,” said Godfrey, “I could tell you, and I could tell Rosamond something."
* Pray tell me, brother; you must,” said Rosamond.
Then, if I must, I will tell you that there is nobody living, not even yourself, my dear Laura, who has higher expectations of Rosamond's sense and goodness than I have ; though I agree, I own, with old Lady Morral, that Miss Rosamond's education has been going on a great while, and that it begins to be time to think of finishing it. The day after we go home, she will arrive with her old question, 'Ma'am, when will Miss Rosamond's education be finished ?""
“And you, I hope, will answer,” said Rosamond, 'Never, while she lives !""-Miss EDGEWORTH.
In the little extract which I have given above from the works of that eminent writer on education, Miss Edgeworth, is to be found the whole essence of the spirit in which a young lady should think of herself on her leaving school,
She is indeed relieved from the strict guardianship of her instructors; she is no longer obliged to devote each hour to some given pursuit, according to their wishes ;-she is, to a certain degree, a free agent. But, in leaving one school, she has but entered another, where her faults and foibles will be judged with infinitely more severity, and where she herself, instead of her teachers, will be responsible for whatever errors she may commit. In truth, the world is a school in which we are daily learning something and making some progress, either in good or in evil. It is too common for a young girl on leaving school to think that she has then completed her education, and that nothing more is required of her; that henceforth she may occupy or waste her time as she pleases; and that, in fact as well as in theory, she is her own mistress.
But a little serious thought and investigation will show us the fallacy of this idea. What is the probable destiny of a young girl? and how far does her school education fit her for that destiny? Let her ask herself these questions,