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rience can be made practically available for the formation of the character of the young, the work is addressed, and in form adapted, to those for whose benefit it is specially designed-namely, to "girls between the ages of ten and sixteen years." To a certain extent, therefore, it wears the form and style, rather of a book adapted for the shelf of a juvenile library, with the "Own Books," &c. of which the press has been within the last few years so prolific, than of a work of sufficient importance and pretension to claim the special attention of a Review article, or entitled to the designation we have given to it as a contribution to "American Literature." It will be found, however, to possess-as even the simplest trifle from the same graceful pen-a pleasing interest for all ages and classes of readers; and in particular, no parent into whose hands it may fall will fail, while commending it to the earnest perusal of those whose happiness must be the dearest object of his solicitude, to send after the amiable author-now separated by the broad Atlantic from her native country—— a warm tribute of gratitude, for a parting gift calculated to prove as valuable in its fruits as it is benevolent in spirit, and simple and modest in form. We shall be well pleased if this mention of it shall have the effect of introducing it within any family circle into which it might otherwise, possibly, not have found its way.

We do not know but this little volume, unpretending as it is, pleases us best of all of Miss Sedgwick's writings. Though all are alike pervaded by a beautiful tone of just thought and right and kindly feeling, that sinks insensibly, without the aid of formal moral apophthegms, with a pleasant and healthful influence upon the mind and heart of the reader; yet the present one is designed, and so admirably adapted, in an unaffected and quiet way, to work so much and valuable good-a good calculated perpetually to expand and multiply itself-that if a general destruction (which Heaven forefend!) awaited the writings of this gifted and popular author, the privilege being permitted of rescuing but one for preservation, this little duodecimo would be, we think, the one we should select for that purpose; though in this judgment it is very likely we may be deemed singular, especially by those who do not look upon it in the same light in which we take most pleasure in regarding it, of its thoroughly American and Democratic-words that we regard as altogether synonymous-character.

An enlightened attention has not yet been sufficiently directed to the proper principles on which the education of American women should be conducted, with reference to the great principles of public policy on which our whole system of institutions is founded, and to the entirely peculiar state of society naturally growing out of them. We hear a great deal of the importance of female education, in a general sense; but we very rarely hear just views expressed-and still more rarely witness their practical application-of the bearing which the democratic freedom of our institutions ought to have upon the proper training of the American wife and mother, as contradistinguished from the females of the foreign


aristocracies, by the prevalent tone and practice of which we are too much accustomed to model our own habits of thinking and acting. It is from the totally different state of society of England, undeniably, that we derive, as a general rule, all our notions of elegance and "gentility." The literature of England is ours, a literature essentially and thoroughly imbued with a vicious tone of aristocracy, the influence of which upon American society has been as lamentable as it has been ridiculous. Rich, in fact, and glorious as have been the accumulated treasures of that literature and numerous as are the exceptions we might cite to our remark, in some of its greatest works-yet still, so heavy has been this clog upon the development of the democratic principle which is the animating spirit of our institutions, and from which we anticipate such incalculable blessings in the general elevation and amelioration of human society, that we have sometimes been almost tempted to wish that our young America had been as widely separated from her mother country in intellectual and moral relationship, by a difference of language, as she is physically by the three thousand miles of waves that roll between their shores. It is very certain—and it is one of the first observations of every foreigner that there is no country in which an aristocratic habit of sentiment more widely pervades what are conventionally styled the better classes of society, than amongst ourselves. It is true, that it can never reach that profound intensity of pride, founded upon immemorially recognized eminence of birth, cherished by education from the cradle, and supported by the magnificent luxury of boundless wealth, such as characterizes an old and palmy aristocracy like that of the English model which we delight to follow at our humble distance; but American aristocracy makes up in extent of diffusion, and superficial glitter of its tinsel show, for its want of substantial depth and solidity. In our cities, in particular, where alone the foreigner has the opportunity of observing it, it exhibits itself in an aspect that would be offensive, were it not too ridiculous, to the eye of the sensible observer. Exclusiveness, in the English sense of the term, can scarcely indeed be said to exist; the shades by which we gradually descend from the bright lights of "the first circles" to the obscure profound of "the common people," blending so insensibly into each other,—and the whole society being constantly in such a state of perpetual motion, upwards or downwards, by the accumulation and dispersion of wealth in families, and by the social separation of different branches, in a greater or less degree, by differences of circumstance and position. Yet, though the persons that compose them are constantly changing, and passing from one to another, the classes on the whole still retain their distinct ranks; while the "fashionable circles" of the day, emerging like the butterfly from the grub of yesterday, do their best to blind the world to the obscurity of the paternal tailor or the ancestral butcher, by their present glitter of ostentation, and supercilious hauteur of ton. And next to these follow different successive sets, or ranks of gentility," all perpetually aspiring to fashion-all restless and unsatisVOL. VI. NO. XX-AUGUST, 1839.



fied-ridiculously extravagant in dress-following as faithfully as their distance will permit those models of better style which are themselves commonly but poor copies of the transatlantic original-and cherishing a paltry affectation of an aristocratic superiority to their supposed inferiors. This general tendency to a pseudo-aristocratic habit of sentiment and action in the "better classes" of our cities-true as a general rule, notwithstanding the multitudes of exceptions that may exist―finds a constant stimulus in the operation of our "Credit System," with its rapid accumulation of imaginary fortunes-its deceptive appearances-its luxurious habits-its distaste and contempt for the dull ploddings of sober industry— and the lax tone of morality which is its unavoidable and worst fruit. And it is amongst these classes that the pernicious trash of the "fashionable novels," professing to exhibit a glimpse of that foreign ton of which it is their highest ambition to present a feeble reflection, finds that rapid and wide circulation that keeps in motion the unresting steam presses of our principal publishers.

Now, amongst these, composing the great bulk of our better educated classes, especially in the cities, the true principles that should direct the education of American women are very little understood, and still less practised. The daughters are for the most part brought up in absurd imitation of those classes in other countries which are born to certain wealth and luxury-in ignorance and repugnance to most of those skilful ministrations of the tender female hand, in the daily details of household concerns, so indispensable to the happiness of every home-in aspirations for "fashion," and habits of extravagance and display-and in a silly notion of "gentility," consisting in a few pretty accomplishments, in the circulating library, in exemption from personal exertion or care, and in a conceited contempt for those whose social ránk, according to their imaginary classification, is placed, by accident, straitened circumstances, or perhaps the mechanical occupation of a father, a little lower than their own. It is a lamentable fact, that with the other numerous and formidable obstacles with which the cause of democracy has to struggle amongst us, is to be reckoned the anti-democratic spirit that pervades the great majority of that sex which exerts the powerful influence over the opinions and character of men, involved in the relations of mother, wife, and sister.

Miss Sedgwick does not hesitate to attack these false notions and habits, point blank, with downright simplicity and earnestness. And beginning at the bottom-after several chapters of excellent precept, pleasantly illus trated, in relation to "school education," the "talent" of health, &c., the first subject to which she directs the attention of her young countrywomen, to whom the volume is inscribed, is the "science of domestie economy, or housewifery." From this part of her little volume, without going into any of the details of household administration, we are tempted to quote a part of the introductory remarks with which she commends this indispensable branch of "self-education" to their especial attention :

“I trust, my young friends, that whether poor or rich, there is not one among you who will not class a practical knowledge of domestic economy among the must haves of American females.

"Nor, whatever your station is, should you lament this, as some unwisely do. The necessity that drives a lady occasionally into her kitchen, and acquaints her with the humble offices of domestic life, has a wholesome effect. It harmonizes with the general tendencies of our political institutions. It helps to draw closer the ties of social existence-to bind the rich and the poor together.

"It has been truly said, that in aristocratic governments 'the poor is not the fellow of the rich.' They live in different spheres. In our country, the lady in the drawing-room must know, for occasionally she must partake, the thoughts, feelings, and sufferings of the domestic in the kitchen.


And the self-respecting, intelligent American domestic knows, there are exemptions and advantages in her condition which her employer has not. She sees that in an elevated station there are extended responsibilities, and increased liabilities to suffering, and she learns to be content in her cheerful, though narrow sphere.

"The changeableness of our condition is another reason, and one usually urged, for a woman's acquainting herself with domestic affairs. But, surely, it is an offence against your common sense, to urge upon you what is so evidently a must have. Women in the highest stations are made unhappy by the want of it. They are dependent on ill-trained domestics, their houses are ill-kept, their husbands are displeased, and their children uncomfortable, and, too late, they learn that the knowledge of domestic affairs, which a little girl insensibly acquires in her humble home, is worth all the accomplishments they half acquired at boarding school.

"And if this knowledge is indispensable to the woman of fortune, who can purchase aid on the right and the left, what must it be to the woman who must herself make up the whole sum of the domestic prosperity and comfort of her household ? "As housewifery is, then, your vocation, my young friends, I should be glad if I could place it in a light that would increase your respect for it. Consider, then, how many faculties and qualities it brings into play-how it may employ your minds, and improve your hearts.

"The science of domestic economy or housewifery requires intelligence, judgment, firmness, and order. It demands energy, diligence, neatness, and frugality. It is graced by generosity, disinterestedness, and cheerfulness.

"It has been truly said, 'that in a thoroughly enlightened community, no useful office will be considered degrading, nor will any be considered incompatible with the exercise of the higher faculties of the mind.'

"The philanthropic rule for governments and large socicties, is, to 'produce the greatest happiness to the greatest number.' A woman, in her little realm, makes all happy, from her husband down to the stranger within her gates-and even further, down to the faithful dog and useful cat, who, in due time, receive their portion from her provident kindness.

"Examples are better than precepts. I know a woman, who, if it were fitting an American, (which I think it is not,) might boast of high birth, whose refined manners fit her for intercourse with the best of any land, who is gifted and cultivated, and has the resources of an easy fortune. But these will not always avail her. She lives in the country. Her year's supply of pork would be mangled by a halfbred butcher, did she not (as she does) stand by him and direct him how to cut it up, what bits to lay aside for sausages, what for smoking, what to pack down, &c. &c. If she chance to have incompetent domestics, she, herself, prepares the pickle for the hams, the staple of a country summer-table. If one of her women is ill, and she cannot obtain a substitute, she does not overburden the other with the work of the disqualified one, but herself kneads the bread, sweeps, and irons. No office essential to the comfort of her family is omitted, because she does not know how to do it, or thinks it, (as we have heard some of our own domestics say, in their

own cases,) 'degrading' to do it. No useful office, my young friends, can be degrading.

"Do not imagine this lady is a mere housewife. You might see her fifty times, without ever hearing her allude to her household affairs. If you were to visit her, you might find her entertaining, with graceful hospitality, the best society in the country, and if you listened to her conversation, you would hardly believe she found time for any thing but the reading that enriched it. And yet the most intimate associates of this, your countrywoman, would find it difficult to name a duty she omits.

"I could point you to another woman, one of the most intellectual in our country, and one of its distinguished writers, who, when her husband builds him a house, superintends the joiners and carpenters, and, from a certain amount of money, gets the greatest possible product of elegance and convenience of every sort; who is at the head of several ably conducted benevolent societies, and who understands the details of housewifery thoroughly, so that her home is truly the abode of comfort, and the fountain of an ever-flowing hospitality. With such women for our boast, my dear girls, we will not envy the fine ladies, and femmes litteraires, (merely literary women,) of other countries.

"I know young women, too, who are the ornaments of our drawing-rooms, who are good musicians, who read German, Italian, and French; and, what is better and rarer, are well versed in the literature of their own language, who can, and do, if need be, perform well all the domestic services of a household.

"Such young girls are, we confess, rare birds. They are the daughters of women who understand their duties as American mothers. These are facts, not fancies. We could multiply them on the right and the left, but we have adduced enough to prove to you that there is no incompatibility between the practice of domestic economy and higher pursuits."

An amusing illustration is given in a letter from an accomplished friend of the author, who, after presiding over a wealthy and elegant establishment for twelve years in New York, was compelled, by the pecuniary reverses of her husband, to remove, accompanied by two servants, to one of the Western States. The constant mortification and suffering to which she found herself exposed during the apprenticeship she was then forced for the first time to serve to this all-important "science," wrung from her the confession, that she would give all her accomplishments, music, languages, and elegant literature, for that knowledge of "household matters," without which, to a woman thus situated, the former seemed "a mockery, somewhat like an imperial robe to a wretch starving for bread."

We would gladly, did our limits permit, transcribe the whole chapter on "Manners." Miss Sedgwick thus summarily despatches the foolish volumes which have been published on the details of this important art of good manners:

"Even our own country has produced, as well as republished, books containing codes of manners. These proceed from modern antiques, who, unconscious of the state of society in which they live, would mark it off into classes, after the fashion of the Old World, and give to them distinguishing badges by introducing European etiquette; that is, certain ceremonial observances and forms of politeness, agreed on by that class of people designated as 'the Polite World,' 'the Upper Classes,' 'Fashionable People,' and 'Good Society.' The rules they give are merely conventional, and have nothing to do with the essence of good manners.

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