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mere children, and brought back to childhood
when they ought to leave the go-cart forever...
Educated in the enervating style recommended by the writers on whom I have been animadverting; and not having a chance, from their subordinate state in society, to recover their lost ground, is it surprising that women everywhere appear a defect in nature? Is it surprising, when we consider what a determinate effect an early association of ideas has on the character, that they neglect their understandings, and turn all their attention to their persons?
The great advantages which naturally result from storing the mind with knowledge, are obvious from the following considerations. The association of our ideas is either habitual or instantaneous; and the latter mode seems rather to depend on the original temperature of the mind than on the will.
When the ideas, and matters of fact, are once taken
in, they lie by for use, till some fortuitous circumstance makes the information
dart into the mind with illustrative force, that has been received at very
different periods of our lives. Like the lightning's flash are many recollections;
one idea assimilating and explaining another, with astonishing rapidity.
The understanding, it is true,
may keep us from going out of drawing when we group our thoughts, or transcribe
from the imagination the warm sketches of fancy; but the animal spirits,
the individual character, give the colouring. Over this subtile electric
fluid,  how little power do we possess, and
over it how little power can reason obtain.
I must be allowed to explain myself.
Education thus only supplies the man of genius
with knowledge to give variety and contrast to his associations; but there
is an habitual association of ideas, that grows "with our growth,"
which has a great effect on the moral character of mankind, and by which
a turn is given to the mind that commonly remains throughout life.
This habitual slavery, to first impressions, has
a more baneful effect on the female than the male character, because business
and other dry employments of the understanding, tend to deaden the feelings
and break associations that do violence to reason.
Everything that they see or hear serves to fix impressions, call forth emotions, and associate ideas, that give a sexual character to the mind. False notions of beauty and delicacy stop the growth of their limbs and produce a sickly soreness, rather than delicacy of organs; and thus weakened by being employed in unfolding instead of examining the first associations, forced on them by every surrounding object, how can they attain the vigour necessary to enable them to throw off their factitious character? - where to find strength to recur to reason and rise superior to a system of oppression, that blasts the fair promises of spring?
This cruel association of ideas, which everything
conspires to twist into all their habits of thinking, or, to speak with
more precision, of feeling, receives new force when they begin to act a
little for themselves; for they then perceive that it is only through their
address to excite emotions in men, that pleasure and power are to be obtained.
Educattion then is worse than Egyptian bondage, it is unreasonable, as well as cruel, to upbraid them with faults that can scarcely be avoided, unless a degree of native vigour be supposed, that falls to the lot of very few amongst mankind.
For instance, the severest sarcasms have been
levelled against the sex, and they have been ridiculed for repeating "a
set of phrases learnt by rote," when nothing could be more
natural, considering the education they receive, and that their "highest
praise is to obey, unargued" - the will of man.
And when all their ingenuity is called forth to adjust their dress, "a passion for a scarlet coat," is so natural, that it never surprised me; and, allowing Pope's summary of their character to be just, "that every woman is at heart a rake," why should they be bitterly censured for seeking a congenial mind, and preferring a rake to a man of sense?
Rakes know how to work on their sensibility, whilst the modest merit of reasonable men has, of course, less effect on their feelings, and they cannot reach the heart by the way of the understanding, because they have few sentiments in common.
It seems a little absurd to expect women to
be more reasonable than men in their likings, and still to deny them the
uncontrolled use of reason. When do men fall in love with sense? When
do they, with their superior powers and advantages, turn from the person
to the mind?
In order to admire or esteem anything for a continuance, we must, at least, have our curiosity excited by knowing, in some degree, what we admire; for we are unable to estimate the value of qualities and virtues above our comprehension. Such a respect, when it is felt, may be very sublime; and the confused consciousness of humility may render the dependent creature an interesting object, in some points of view; but human love must have grosser ingredients; and the person very naturally will come in for its share - and, an ample share it mostly has!
Love is, in a great degree, an arbitrary passion, and will reign, like some other stalking mischiefs, by its own authority, without deigning to reason; and it may also be easily distinguished from esteem, the foundation of friendship, because it is often excited by evanescent beauties and graces, though, to give an energy to the sentiment, soon deepen their impression and set the make the most fair - the first good.
Common passions are excited by look for beauty and the simper of women are captivated by easy manners; a gentleman-like man seldom fails to please them, and their thirsty ears eagerly drink the insinuating nothings of politeness, whilst they turn from the unintelligible sounds of the charmer - reason, charm he never so wisely.
With respect to superficial accomplishments, the rake certainly has the advantage; and of these females can form an opinion, for it is their own ground. Rendered gay and giddy by the whole tenor of their lives, the very aspect of wisdom, or the severe graces of virtue, must have a lugubrious appearance to them; and produce a kind of restraint from which they and love, sportive child, naturally revolt.
Without taste, excepting of the lighter kind, for
taste is the offspring of judgment, how can they discover that true beauty
and grace must arise from the play of the mind? and how can they be expected
to relish in a lover what they do not, or very imperfectly, possess themselves?
The inference is obvious; till women are led to exercise their understandings, they should not be satirised for their attachment to rakes; or even for being rakes at heart, when it appears to be the inevitable consequence of their education. They who live to please - must find their enjoyments, their happiness, in pleasure! It is a trite, yet true remark, that we never do anything well, unless we love it for its own sake.
Supposing, however, for a moment, that women were,
in some future revolution of time, to become, what I sincerely wish them
to be, even love would acquire more serious dignity, and be purified in
its own fires; and virtue giving true delicacy to their affections, they
would turn with disgust from a rake.
What satisfaction could a woman of delicacy promise herself in a union with such a man, when the very artlessness of her affection might appear insipid? Thus does Dryden describe the situation,
But one grand truth women have yet to learn, though much it imports them to act accordingly. In the choice of a husband, they should not be led astray by the qualities of a lover - for a lover the husband, even supposing him to be wise and virtuous, cannot long remain.
Were women more rationally educated, could they take a more comprehensive view of things, they would be contented to love but once in their lives; and after marriage calmly let passion subside into friendship - into that tender intimacy, which is the best refuge from care; yet is built on such pure, still affections, that idle jealousies would not be allowed to disturb the discharge of the sober duties of life, or to engross the thoughts that ought to be otherwise employed.
This is a state in which many men live; but few,
very few, women.
Men of wit and fancy are often rakes; and fancy
is the food of love.
The virtues of a husband are thus thrown by love into the background, and gay hopes, or lively emotions, banish reflection till the day of reckoning come; and come it surely will, to turn the sprightly lover into a surly suspicious tyrant, who contemptuously insults the very weakness he fostered. or, supposing the rake reformed, he cannot quickly get rid of old habits.
When a man of abilities is first carried away by
his passions, it is necessary that sentiment and taste varnish the enormities
of vice, and give a zest to brutal indulgences; but when the gloss of novelty
is worn off, and pleasure palls upon the sense, lasciviousness becomes
barefaced, and enjoyment only the desperate effort of weakness flying from
reflection as from a legion of devils.
If much comfort cannot be expected from the friendship
of a reformed rake of superior abilities, what is the consequence when
he lacketh sense, as well as principles?
When the habits of weak people
are consolidated by time, a reformation is barely possible; and actually
makes the beings miserable who have not sufficient mind to be amused by
innocent pleasure; like the tradesman who retires from the hurry of business,
Nature presents to them only a universal blank; and the restless thoughts
prey on the damped spirits. 
If such be the force of habit; if such be the bondage of folly, how carefully ought we to guard the mind from storing up vicious associations; and equally careful should we be to cultivate the understanding, to save the poor wight from the weak dependent state of even harmless ignorance. For it is the right use of reason alone which make us independent of everything - excepting the unclouded reason - "Whose service is perfect freedom."
 I have sometimes, when inclined to laugh at materialists, asked whether, as the most powerful effects in nature are apparently produced by fluids, the magnetic, etc., the passions might not be fine volatile fluids that embraced humanity, keeping the more refractory elementary parts together - or whether they were simply a liquid fire that pervaded the more sluggish materials, giving them life and heat?
 I have frequently seen this exemplified in women whose beauty could no longer be repaired. They have retired from the noisy scenes of dissipation; but unless they became Methodists, the solitude of the select society of their family connections or acquaintance, has presented only a fearful void; consequently, nervous complaints, and all the vapourish train of idleness, rendered them quite as useless, and far more unhappy than when they joined the giddy throng.
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