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both to single and matrimonial life in that part of his performance in which, whether it relates chiefly to the married or to the unmarried, they severally will best accord with the general scheme already settled. I have to request my readers of all descriptions, uniformly to bear in mind, that such is the principle on which I have proceeded.
As my concern in the present work is with the female sex, an error or temptation becomes entitled to notice, when it is one to which women are exposed, though they should not be exposed to it in a greater degree than the other sex. In animadverting on subjects of this description, I may not always have observed, when the obfervation would have been well-founded, that the animadversion might be extended to men. Sometimes too, in speaking of failings which prevail in the female world, I
may not have expressly stated, when I might have stated with truth, that there
is a large number of individuals who are exempt from them. Let not the former omission be ascribed to partiality, nor the latter to the injustice of indiscriminate censure. I have been generally solicitous to express myself, so as to preclude the poflibility of such suspicions. be better even to incur a small risk of occasional misconstruction, than to weary the reader with the perpetual recurrence of qualifying and explanatory phrases.
But it may
Some of the observations advanced in the subsequent chapters will not, I trust, appear to the generality of those who may peruse them, the less deserving of regard, in consequence of being deduced from scriptural authority. To such perfons as, rejecting that authority, have imbibed opinions concerning female duties, and the standard of female excellence, at variance with those which Christianity inculcates, let me be permitted to recommend, antecedently to every study and to
every pursuit, a deliberate and candid examination of the evidence of a religion, which furnishes the wiseft rules of conduct for this life, as well as grounds of hope and consolation in looking forward to another,
GENERAL GROUNDS OF THE IMPORT
ANCE OF THE FEMALE CHARACTER
n the course of a work which purposes to investigate somewhat at length the several duties of the female sex, the importance of the female character will naturally disclose itself. It is not by attending to formal and studied panegyric, but by considering in detail the various and momentous duties, to the discharge of which, women are called both by reason and revelation, that the influence of feminine virtues is rendered most conspicuous. It is thus too that the responsibility attached to that influence in all its branches, in all its minutest capacities of being beneficially employed, will be placed in the strongest
light; a circumstance of no small weight with regard to precluding the emotions of arrogance and the confidence of self-suffi ciency, which are ever likely to be produced by simple eulogium. The general contempt, therefore, which is sometimes manifested respecting women by perfons of the other sex, and most frequently by perfons who are unworthy or incapable of forming a judgement concerning those whom they profess to despise, would not have induced me to make any preliminary obfervations on the subject. There is, however, a prejudice which it is desirable to remove without delay, because it is found to exist in female ininds, and unavoidably contributes, in proportion to its strength, to extinguish the desire of improvement, and to repress useful exertion. The fact is this. Young women endowed with good understandings, but desirous of justifying the mental indolence which they have permitted themselves to indulge; or disappointed at not perceiving a way open