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crétion : but let a disposition to those exertions be encouraged on principles of duty; and confirmed, in proportion to the ability of the individual, by frequency of practice. Before the world has repressed, by its interested lessons, the warmth of youthful benevolence, let experience establish a conviction, that the greatest of all pleasures is to do good. She who has accustomed herself to this delight, will not easily be induced to forego it. She will feel, that whatever she is able, without penuriousness or improper singularity, to withdraw from the expence of personal ornament, is not only reserved for much higher purposes, but for purposes productive of exquisite and
Another, and a very important benefit which results from fixed habits of moderation as to dress, and all points of a similar nature, will be clearly discerned by adverting to the irreparable evils into which young women are sometimes plunged by
the contrary practice. The lavish indulgence in which they have learned to feek for happiness, becoming, in their estimation, essential to their comfort, will bias their conduct in every important step. Hence, in forming matrimonial connections, it exercises perhaps a secret, but a very powerful influence. The prospect of wealth and magnificence, of the continuance and of the encrease of pleasures fuppofed to flow from the pomp of dress and equipage, from sumptuous mansions, shewy furniture, and numerous attendants, dazzles the judgement; impofes on the affections; conceals many defects in moral character, and compensates for others. It frequently proves the decifive circumstance which leads the deluded victim to the altar, there to consign herself to splendid misery for life.
There are yet other confequences which attend an immoderate passion for the embellishments of dress. When the mind is fixed upon objects which derive their chief value from the food which they administer to vanity and the love of admiration; the aversion, which almost every individual of either sex is prone to feel towards a rival, is particularly called forth. And when objects attainable so easily as exterior ornaments occupy the heart, there will be rivals without number. Hence it is not very unusual to see neighbouring young women engaged in a constant state of petty warfare with each other. To vie in oftentatiousness and in coftliness of apparel ; to be distinguished by novel inventions in the science of decoration ; to gain the earliest intelligence respecting changes of fashion in the metropolis ; to detect, in the attire of a luckless competitor, traces of a mode which for fix weeks has been obsolete in high life; these frequently are the points of excellence to which the whole force of female genius is directed. In the mean time, while the mask of friendship is worn on the countenance, and the language of regard dwells on the tongue, indifference, disgust, and
envy, aré gradually taking possession of the breast; until, at length, the unworthy contest, prolonged for years under confirmed habits of diflimulation, by which none of the parties are deceived, terminates in the violence of an open rupturé.
The Scriptures have spoken too plainly refpecting unreasonable solicitude about dress, to permit me to quit the subject without referring to their authority. Our Saviour, in one of his most folemn discourses, warns his followers against anxiety“ wherewithal
they should be clothed," in a manner particularly emphatical, by claffing that anxiety with the despicable pursuits of those who are studious “ what they shall eat, and what they shall drink;” and by pronouncing all such cares to be among the characteristical features by which the heathens were distinguished and disgraced (c). It ought to be observed, that these admonitions of Chrift refpect men no less than women. St. Paul,
(c) Matt. vi. 31, 32.
in the following passage, speaks pointedly concerning female dress : “ I will, in like
manner also, that women adorn them“ selves in modeft apparel, with shame“ facedness and fobriety: not with broi“ dered hair, or gold, or pearls, or coftly
array; but, which becometh women pro“ fessing godliness, with good works (d).” In another passage, which remains to be produced from the New Testament, St. Peter also speaks expressly of the female sex ; and primarily of married women, but in terms applicable with equal propriety to the single: “ Whose adorning, let it not be " that outward adorning of plaiting the hair “ and of wearing of gold, and of putting
on of apparel. But let it be the hidden
man of the heart,” (the inward frame and disposition of the mind,)“ in that which is “ not corruptible; even the ornament of a “ meek and quiet spirit, which is in the
fight of God of great price (e)." It would be too much to assert, on the one
(d) į Tim. ii. 8. 10.
(e) 1 Peter, iii. 3, 4.