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Augurs and soothsayers, astrologers,
THOSE who have maintained that men would be more miserable than beasts, were their hopes confined to this life only, among other considerations take notice, that ihe latter are only afflicted with anguish of the present evil; whereas the former are very often pained by the reflection of what is past, and the fear of what is to come. This fear of any future difficulties or misfortunes is so natural to the human mind, that were a man's sorrows and disquietudes summed up at the end of his life, it would generally be found, that he had suffered more from the apprehension of such evils, as never happened to him, than those evils, had they really befallen him, could have occasioned him to feel. To this we may add, that among those evils which befal us, there are many that have been more painful to us in the prospect, than by their actual pressure.
This natural impatience to look into futurity, and to know what accidents may happen to us hereafter, has given birth to many ridiculous arts and strange inventions. Some found the prescience on the lines of a man's hand, others on the features of his face; some on the signatures which nature has impressed on his body, and others on his handwriting: some read men's fortune in the stars, as others have searched after them in the entrails of beasts, or the fight of birds. Men of the best sense have been touched more or less with these groundless horrors and presages of futurity, upon surveying the inost indifferent works of nature. Can any thing be more surprising than to consider Cicero, who made the greatest figure at the bar, and in the senate of the Roman commonwealth, and, at the same time, outshone all the philosophers of antiquity in his library and in his retirements, as busying himself in the college of augurs, and observing with a religious attention,
after what manner the chickens pecked the several grains of corn which were thrown to them!
Notwithstanding these follies are pretty well worn out of the minds of the wise and learned in the present age, multitudes of weak and ignorant persons are still slaves to them. There are numberless arts of prediction among the vulgar, which are too trifling to enumerate ; and infinite observations of days, voices, numbers, figures, which are re gardeď by them as portents and prodigies. In short, every thing prophesies to the superstitious man; who thinks there is scarce a straw or a rusty piece of iron that lies in the way by accident.
The desire of knowing future events is one of the strony. est inclinations in the mind of man. But if we consider that we are free agents, we shall discover the absurdity of such enquires. One of our actions which we might have performed or neglected, is the cause of another that succeeds it, and so the whole chain of life is linked together. Pain, poverty, or infamy, are the natural product of vicious and imprudent acts; as, on the contrary, blessings are of good ones.
A great enhancement of pleasure arises from its being unexpected; and pain is generally doubled by being foreseen. Upon all these, and several other accounts, we ought to rest satisfied in the portion bestowed on us; to adore the hand that has fitted every thing to our nature, and has not more displayed his goodness in our knowledge than in our ignorance.
It is not unworthy of observation, that superstitious enquiries into future events prevail more or less, in proportion to the improvement of liberal arts and useful knowledge, in the several parts of the world. Accordingly we find that magical incantations remain in Lapland; in the more remore parts of Scotland they have their second sight, and several of their own countrymen have seen (they tell us) abundance of fairies, &c. In Asia this credulity is strong; and the greatest part of refined learning there consists in the knowledge of amulets, talismans, occult numbers, and the like.
ADVANTAGES OF CIVILITY AND POLITENESS.
THE acquisition of politeness affords many advantages in life ; it cleanses it from all turbulent humours and passions, and makes room for whatever is agreeable, captivating, and attracting; it is capable of continual refinements, which may be all turned to our own advantage; it gives you consequence with, and commands respect from others; it never descends to engage in insignificant disputes and quarrels, but extinguishes malice, rancour, and revenge, as being atterly inconsistent with its rules; and there is so great a pleasure accruing to ourselves, in the capacity to please others, that it is infatuation not to make it our particular study; it is worth all our pains to acquire, from the circumstance of its being a passport or recommendation to all manner of good company, and what may be in the power of every one to attain, if they are not prevented by absolute ignorance, pride, or ill-nature; and wherever we find it, it inakes us pleased with society, and lessens that contempt for mankind we are frequently too apt to cherish.
So that a woman with a moderate education, good nature, and a common understanding, if she apply them properly, unmixed with vanity and affectation, even in the ordinary circles of life, and without mingling with the great, has it in her power at all times to be civil and polite, and consequently respected and beloved.
ON THE EMPLOYMENT OF TIME.
TO occupy the mind with useful employments, is among the best methods of guarding it from surrendering itself to dissipation. To occupy it with such employments regularly, is among the best methods of leading it to love them. Young women sometimes complain, and more frequently the coinplaint is made for them, that they have nothing to do. Yet few complaints are urged with less foundation. To prescribe to a young person of the female sex the precise occapations to which she should devote her time, is impossible. It would be to attempt to limnit, by inapplicable rules, duties which must vary according to circumstances
wbich cannot previously be ascertained. Differences in point of health, of intellect, of taste, and a thousand namesess particularities of family occurrences and local situation, claim, in each individual case, to be taken into the account. Some general reflections, however, may be offered.
I advert not yet to the occupations which flow from the duties of matrimonial life. When, to the rational employments open to all women, the entire superintendance of domestic economy is added; when parental cares and duties press forward to assume the high rank in a mother's breast to which they are entitled; to complain of the difficulty of finding proper methods of occupying time, would be a lamentation which nothing but politeness could preserve froin being received by the auditor with a smile. But in what manner, I hear it replied, are they, who are not wives and mothers, to busy themselves? Even at present young women in general, notwithstanding all their efforts to quicken and enliven the slow-paced hours, appear, if we may judge from their countenances and their language, not upfrequently to feel themselves unsuccessful. If dress then, and the affairs and employments which you class collectively under the head of dissipation, are not to be allowed to fill so large a space in the course of female life as they now overspread ; and your desire extremely to curtail them in the exercise of this branch of their established prerogative is by no means equivocal; how are well-bred women to support theinselves in the single state through the dismal vacuity that seems to await them? This question it may be sufficient to answer by another : if young and well-bred women are pot accustomed, in their single state, regularly to assign a large proportion of their hours to serious and instructive occupations, what prospect, what hope is there, that, when married, they will assume habits to which they have ever been strangers, and exchange idleness and volatility for steadiness and exertion ?
To every woman, whether single or married, the habit of regularly allotting to improving books a portion of each day, and, as far as may be practicable, at stated hours, cannot be too strongly recommended. I use the term improzing in a large sense; as comprehending all writings which may contribute to her virtue, her usefuluess, her instruction, and her innocent satisfaction ; to her bappiness in this world and in the next. She who believes that she is to survive in another state of being through eternity, and is duly impressed by the awful conviction, will fix day by day her most serious thoughts on the inheritance to which she aspires. Where her treasure is there will her heart be also. She will not be seduced from an habitual study of the Holy Scriptures, and of other works calculated to imprint on her bosom the comparatively small importance of the pains and pleasures of this period of her existence; and to fill her with that knowledge, and inspire her with those views and dispositions, which may lead her to delight in the present service of her Maker, and enable her to rejoice in the con. templation of futurity. With the time allotted to the regular perusal of the Word of God, and of performances which inculcate the principles and enforce and illustrate the rules of Christian duty, no other kind of reading ought to be permitted to interfere. At other parts of the day let history, let biography, let poetry, or some of the various branches of elegant and profitable knowledge, pay their tribute of instruction and amusement. But let her studies be confined within the strictest limits of purity. Let whatever she peruses in her most private hours be such as she needs not be ashamed of reading aloud to those whose good opinion she is most anxious to deserve. Let her remember that there is an all-seeing eye, 'which is ever fixed upon her, even in her closest retirement. Let her pot indulge herself in the frequent perasal of writings, however interesting in their nature, however eminent in a literary point of view, which are likely to inflame pride, and to inspire false notions of generosity, of feeling, of spirit, or of any other quality deemed to contribute to excellence of character. Such unhappily are the effects to be apprehended from the works even of several of our distinguished writers, in prose or in verse. And let her accustom herself regularly to bring the sentiment which she reads, and the conduct which is described in terms, more or less strong, of applause and recommendation, to the test of Christian principles. In proportion as this practice is pursued or neglected, reading will be profitable or pernicious.
There is one species of writings which obtains from a considerable portion of the female sex a reception much more favourable than is afforded to other kinds of composition more worthy of encouragement. It is scarcely necessary to add the name of novels and romances.' Works of this nature not unfrequently deserve the praise of ingengity of plan and contrivance, of accurate and well supported discrimination of character, and of force and elegance of language. Some of them have professedly been