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have sense, and that independence of mind which few women
possess who are taught to depend entirely on their husbands.
Parental affection is, perhaps,
the blindest modification of perverse self-love; for we have not, like
the French,  two terms to distinguish the pursuit
of a natural and reasonable desire, from the ignorant calculations of weakness.
Parental affection, indeed, in many minds, is but
a pretext to tyrannise where it can be done with impunity, for only good
and wise men are content with the respect that will bear discussion.
If the power of reflecting on the past, and darting the keen shall more eye of contemplation into futurity, be the grand privilege of man, it must be granted that some people enjoy this prerogative in a very limited degree. Everything new appears to them wrong; and not able to distinguish the possible from the monstrous, they fear where no fear should find a place, running from the light of reason, as if it were a firebrand; yet the limits of the possible have never been defined to stop the sturdy innovator's hand.
Woman, however, a slave in every situation to
prejudice, seldom exerts enlightened maternal affection; for she either
neglects her children, or spoils them by improper indulgence. The affection
of some women for their children is, as I have before termed it, frequently
very brutish: for it eradicates every spark of humanity.
As the care of children in their infancy is one of the grand duties annexed to the female character by nature, this duty would afford many forcible arguments for strengthening the female understanding, if it were properly considered.
The formation of the mind must be begun very early,
and the temper, in particular, requires the most judicious attention -
an attention which woman cannot pay who only love their children because
they are their children, and seek no further for the foundation of their
duty, than in the feelings of the moment.
To be a good mother, a woman must have sense, and
that independence of mind which few women possess who are taught to depend
entirely on their husbands.
I now only mean to insist, that unless the understanding
of woman be enlarged, and her character rendered more firm, by being allowed
to govern her own conduct, she will never have sufficient sense or command
of temper to manage her children properly. Her parental affection,
indeed, scarcely deserves the name, when it does not lead her to suckle
her children, because the discharge of this duty is equally calculated
to inspire maternal and filial affection: and it is the indispensable duty
of men and women to fulfil the duties which give birth to affections that
are the surest preservatives against vice.
In the exercise of their maternal feelings Providence
has furnished women with a natural substitute for love, when the lover
becomes only a friend, and mutual confidence takes place of overstrained
admiration - a child then gently twists the relaxing cord, and a mutual
care produces a new mutual sympathy.
 L'amour propre. L'amour de soi meme. RETURN TO TEXT
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© 1990-2006 Irene Stuber, Hot Springs National Park, AR 71902. Originally web-published at http://www.undelete.org/
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