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peded, and their future stability endangered, are continually presenting themselves to each in a shape adapted to the pursuits in which he is busied, and the objects most familiar to his attention and defire. But the wife and the daughter of the former are scarcely distinguished as such, by any peculiarities of moral obligation, from the persons standing in the same degree of relationship to the latter. The discriminating lines, unless their number or their strength be encreased by circumstances not necessarily resulting from the profession of the husband or the father, are few, obscure, and inconstant. The same general truth might be exemplified in a variety of additional instances. Even the superiority of rank which elevates the peeress above her untitled neighbour, though it unquestionably creates a difference between their respective duties, is far from creating a difference equal to that which subsists between the duties of an hereditary legislator and those of a private gentleman. Such
being the general similarity in the situation of women, differing in some respects from each other in outward circumstances, or even placed in separate classes of society; I purpose to couch in general terms the remarks about to be offered on the conduct of the female sex. But I shall at the same time be studiously solicitous to point out, whenever a fit occasion shall intervene, the most prominent of those instances in which the moral activity and the moral vigilance, of the female mind are to be guided into particular channels, in consequence of some particularity, either in the station of the individual, or in the rank or profession of her nearest connections. The peculiar temptations of the capital, and those of the country, will also receive the distinct confideration which they deserve.
Marriage draws a broad line of discrimination, separating the female sex into two classes, each of which has moral duties and trials peculiar to itself. A writer, therefore, whose enquiries, in whatever manner they may
be carried on, shall relate to the whole circle of feminine duties, will almost inevitably find himself constrained to consider the duties of married women in some measure apart from those of the single. Yet he will not fail to perceive, on the slightest attention to his subject, that there are numerous rules of moral obligation which attach equally on women of either class; rules which respect fundamental principles of action, dispositions of the heart, the cultivation of the understanding, the employment of time, and various other particulars essential or subservient to excellence and usefulness of character. How then is he to avoid tedious and unprofitable repetition in the reflections which he makes, and the advice which he offers ? By determining, previously to the commencement of his work, the plan of composition and arrangement most favourable, in his judgment, to perspicuity and impressiveness; and then, by inserting such observations as are applicable B 3
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 defcriptions, 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 animad verting on subjects of this description, I may not always have observed, when the observation 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. But it may 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.
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 persons 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 B4