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haughty to others; and yet she may mean nothing wrong to any one; and, perhaps, her sole view may be to attract momentary notice, or to endeavour to render herself a person of consequence in the eyes of others. These are weak, but not criminal motives; and yet they render her liable to derision, and to just censure, even from the lenient in judgment.
A venerable authoress, in one of her earliest publications, says, that propriety is to a woman what it has been said action is to an orator, the first, and second, and third essential: that propriety is the centre in which the lines of duty and amiability meet and is to the character, what proportion is to the figure, and grace to the attitude. Propriety, thus characterised, is the union of every desirable quality in woman, by which her conduct and manners are influenced under every circumstance. Propriety never desires a deviation from any of the laws of good society, and neither seeks notice nor admiration, which, from their natures, would be incompatible with its own characteristics. Improper familiarities, haughtiness, intrusive forwardness to superiors, and insolence to inferiors; the indulgence of any whim, by which our conduct to others may be influenced, are all equally unknown to propriety.
Unless a woman desire it, she seems but little called upon in public to bring herself and her actions into a prominent point of view, or to render herself a mark for sarcasm and ridicule. At home, when entertaining guests, she cannot pass altogether so unobtrusively, although the man
ners of the present period allow of more ease and latitude of deportment than formerly was deemed correct in a lady hostess, whose thoughts and time were condemned to the strictest attention to the comforts and pleasures of her visitors, often to the entire destruction of both.
Ease of manner in a woman is very pleasing, when the self-possession which gives it is unaccompanied by masculine courage, or by an undue value for herself. In general, the manners will be free from any painful degree of constraint, when the mind is not engaged upon self, or occupied with the idea of exciting attention and admiration from those around. Affectation has its origin from these sources; and this, besides being a symptom of a weak mind, is entirely destructive of good manners. Good sense and simplicity of manners are generally companions, forming a natural gentility, which is far preferable to any artificial politeness, inasmuch as the one is a part of the individual herself, and the other only a garb worn when occasion calls for it. However, those who possess this natural gentility may, by mixing in good society, have the additional polish given to it, which afterwards distinguishes it as the perfection of good manners.
MRS. L. With the view of forming the manners of young people, would you bring them early into society?
MRS. B. Certainly not until they have passed the age which ought to be chiefly devoted to study, and to the application essential to the acquisition of any accomplishment either mental or practical. Instruction will avail little if the thoughts are with
drawn from it by the attractions of dissipation, which even older people often find incompatible with strict attention to their duties, or to serious occupation; the effect upon the young and lively must be still greater, in rendering application irksome to them, and in diminishing their zeal and interest in the acquisition of knowledge.
The manners of young people will be insensibly formed during the progress of their education, and at this period of life, they will derive more advantage from the example afforded them, in the correct and amiable deportment of those amongst whom they live, than could be obtained from an occasional mixture in more general society. To home they should be indebted for the first impression of good manners; to the world for the finishing touches only. The consequences of too early an initiation into the supposed delights of routs and balls are, often, an unfinished education, and from late hours, ruined health; sufficient evils to render parents cautious of yielding, when urged by the solicitations of their daughters, to introduce them early into those scenes of promised delight. Even when the proper season arrives for the indulgence of these natural wishes, moderation in their enjoyment should be strictly observed. This a regard for health requires, and it is, also, a precaution, by which the zest for such pleasures may be kept alive. Satiety is the mortal foe to enjoy
On the score of appearances, too, it is by no means desirable for young people to frequent too commonly the haunts of pleasure. It might lead
to an unfavourable inference alike as to the inclination and power of a young lady to discharge the obligations of a wife or a mother, and thus obscure her prospects of engaging the notice and approbation of the sensible and reflecting part of the other sex. This remark must be perfectly familiar to the prudent and wary mother, as well as the truism, that what we behold every day we regard with indifference, or rarely notice. Scarce and choice plants the florist covets, and not the flowers that are common to his soil and country, and of which he may easily obtain possession.
I do not think that even the manners of a young person are improved by too great a familiarity with the world. It gives a hardness to them, marking the features of the face with symptoms of effrontery, and the whole person with an undaunted air, resulting from self-complacency. All this may be considered by some as fashionable ease of manner; but, certainly, the tout ensemble is far from interesting or graceful.
Not only appearances, but the comfort of a young lady in public, depends upon her having an unexceptionable escort or chaperon, to whom she may have recourse upon any dilemma, and whose experience and greater knowledge of the world may be useful to her in assisting her out of her difficulties. Her mother is, of course, the best escort she can have; but if circumstances prevent her from accompanying her daughter, a near relation or an intimate friend should supply her place. A young woman venturing into public without a proper chaperon is a thing scarcely known; and, indeed, without such a sanc