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ceed from engrossing conversation to employ the pen, of learning to clothe their thoughts in studied phrases; and even of losing simplicity both of thought and expression in florid, refined, and sentimental parade. Frequently, too, the desire of fhining intermingles itself, and involves them in additional temptations. They are ambitious to be distinguished for writing, as the phrase is, good letters. Not that a lady ought not to write a good letter. But a lady, who makes it her study to write a good letter, commonly produces a compofition to which a very different epithet ought to be applied. Those letters only are good, which contain the natural effusions of the heart, expressed in unaffected language. Tinsel and glitter, and laboured phrases, dismiss the friend and introduce the authoress. From the use of strained and hyperbolical language, it is but a step to advance to that which is insincere. But though that step be not taken, all that is pleasing in letterwriting is already loft. And a far heavier loss is to be dreaded, the loss of simplicity of manners and character in other points. For when a woman is habitually betrayed into an artificial mode of proceeding by vanity, by the desire of pleasing, by erroneous judgement, or by any other cause; can it be improbable that the same cause should extend its influence to other parts of her conduct, and be productive of fimilar effects? In justice to the female sex, however, it ought to be added, that when women of improved understandings write with simplicity, and employ their pens in a more rational way than retailing the shapes of head-dresses and gowns, and encouraging each other in vanity, their letters are in some respects particularly pleasing. Being unencumbered with grave disquisitions, they possess a peculiar ease; and thew with singular clearness the delicate features and shades, which distinguish the mind of the writer.

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CHAP. VII.

REMARKS ON PROPENSITY TO IMI

TATION.

On Dress.

At the

age
when
young

women are introduced into general society, the character, even of those who have been the best instructed, is in a considerable degree unfixed. The full force of temptation, as yet known only by report, is now to be learned from hazardous experience. Right principles, approved in theory, are to be reduced from speculation into practice. Modes of conduet, wisely chosen and well begun, are to be confirmed by the influence of habit. New scenes are to be witnessed; new opinions to be heard ; new examples to be observed; new dangers to be encountered.

The

The result of a very few years at this feason of life, in almost every case, powerfully affects, and in many cases unequivocally decides, the tenor of its future course. Unfortunate are those individuals who, at this critical period, being destitute of the counsel of judicious friends, or too giddy to give it a patient hearing, or too opinionated to receive it with kindness, advance unaided to the trial ; and are left blindly to imbibe the maxims, and imitate the proceedings, of the thoughtless multitude around them.

A propensity to imitation is natural to the human mind, and is attended with various effects highly favourable to human happiness. To childhood it is a perpetual source of knowledge, gained without labour and without reluctance. In riper years it continues to instruct. It produces such a degree of conformity between the manners and conduct of different individuals, as maintains the harmony of society, notwithstanding the clashing pursuits and preten

sions

I 2

rarely seem in the common intercourse of life to turn their abilities to the advantage either of themselves or of their friends; others, gifted with equal talents, are tempted to misapply them by the consciousness of pofsessing them. Vain of their powers and of their dexterity in the use of them, they cannot resist the impulse which they feel to lead a pert and coxcombical

young man, whenever he falls in their way, to expose himself. The prattle which they despise, they encourage; because it amusesthem by rendering the speaker ridiculous. They lead him on, unsuspicious of their design, and secretly pluming himself, on the notice which he attracts, and on his own happy talents of rendering himself agreeable, and delighted the most when he is most the object of derision, from one step of folly to another. By degrees they contract an habitual relish for the style of conversation, which enables them at once to display their own wit, and to gratify their passion for mirth, and their taste for the ludicrous. They become in

wardly

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