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the peeress. It will not draw multitudes in its train : it may influence few: but are you certain that it will influence none? Is it poffible for you to know beforehand, that it will not influence one individual ? And if it has a beneficial influence on one individual, is this an effect to be despised? Is the very chance of such an effect to be difregarded ? But is it not probable, is it not almost certain, that the force of your example will be more widely felt? Put the case fairly to yourself. If a young woman, of your own age and station, and of
your own neighbourhood, had declined the public amusement which has given rise to this discussion, and had confesledly declined it for the reasons which have recently been urged against it; would her example have excited no doubts in your own breaft? If it had found you involved in doubts, would it not have strengthened them? If it had found you impelled by false shame to act contrary to your judgement, would it not have sustained you? Might not an oppo
fite example on her part have prevented or removed
your doubts, or have given false shame the victory over your understanding and your conscience ? Might it not have on others the same effect as on yourself? Have you then no fifter, no relation, no friend, no acquaintance, whom your example could move? Are you so little loved, so little esteemed, that there is not a single person in your own family, or among your connections, not a single person either in your own situation in life, or of rank fomewhat above or somewhat below it, on whom your sentiments and conduct would operate either in the way of recommendation or the contrary? If this supposition be possible, how must
Remember then these two plain and momentous rules of conduct at which we have arrived. First, that on every occasion you are to act precisely in that man
believe that moral rectitude would of itself require you to adopt
independently of any reference to effects which may be produced by your ex ample. And secondly, that whatever may be your station in life, there is no case in which your example cannot do harm; nor any in which it may not do good.
To some persons I may, perhaps, appear to have dwelt on the supposed inefficacy of individual example, and on the duty of abftaining from every proceeding which confcience, previously to all consideration of the probable effect of that example, pro, nounces to be in itself morally wrong, with an extraordinary degree of particularity and solicitude. I have, in truth, been anxious to explain myself on these topics with
perspicuity. For I have been fully conscious, that in pointing out their bearings on the conduct of an individual with respect to one species of public amusement, I have, in fact, been ascertaining two moral rules which may be applied almost daily and hourly, and to many of the most important
occurrences and transactions in life. If these rules have been satisfactorily established, it would be not only superfluous, but tedious, to revive the argument hereafter. I would therefore request the reader to bear them carefully in mind; to consider them as meant to be applied to every branch of moral behaviour which may be discussed in the subsequent pages ; and to turn her thoughts to them, and to the reasoning on which they are founded, whenever in the future intercourse of life she shall hear the common but
very mistaken opinions, from the effect of which they are designed to guard her, brought forward to influence her conduct.
Theatrical Entertainments-Musical Enter
tainments—Sunday Concerts--DancingGaming and Cards-On Excess in the Pursuit of Amusements.
. which offer themselves to our attention in the next place.
The Stage is an instrument too powerful not to produce visible and extensive effects wherever it is permanently employed. To the sentiments displayed in the tragic or the comic scene, to the examples of conduct afforded by popular characters under interesting circumstances, and to the general tone of manners and morals which pervades