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bled penitents to the bosom of parental cle: mency, are now prowling about the streets ; and at length are become so degraded in their own estimation, so destitute of hope, and so hardened by practice, that reflection is abandoned and their manners are desperate, *
Will parents then, who ought to be the guardian angels of their daughters happiness, " to drop a tear on their frailties, and blot them out for ever," will they, by the bitterest in
* The writer of these Essays has often wished that in every city, town, and country, some sort of large manufactory were established, capable of employing both sexes, in whatever department they could be found most useful; where, on ex. pressing a desire to work, they should be welcomed, clothed, and fed, and no questions asked. Such an asylum, under suitable modifications and proper laws, would produce the most salutary effects, by receiving the outcasts of society, who, without character cannot be supposed to get employment, and are hence left to the vilest alternatives : in this insti. tution the most abandoned might be fed, concealed, and what is of moment to the interests of policy, virtue, and reli- gion, and moreover should be the design of all laws, they . might here, after proper probation, recover lost characters, they might be reformed!
vective and implacable severity, resolutely consign their own offspring to present wretchedness, and imminently expose them to every future ill?
Can parents thus survey the fair image of themselves, without emotion and without forgiveness ? Will they not recollect the doted innocence of the cradle, how many times their eyes have gazed with proud delight on that, which is now transformed into the object of their aversion and their scorn ? Will they not, with frantic readiness acknowledge the thousand pleasures of budding youth? and yet can none of these disarm the parent of his rage, and sweetly work upon the heart to make him spare and love the child? Yes, resentment can hold out no longer! With affectionate grasp he presses to his bosom the lovely penitent, mingles his tears with hers, seals the happy pardon on her quivering lips, and with godlike tendernes, bids her to sin no more,
Prevention, however, against this painful conflict, against the overthrow of female honour, should in every part of education and habit of life be most religiously consulted.
A total ignorance of the world, may in many instances be equally hurtful to the cause of virtue, as too great a familiarity with it. On the other hand, those of discernment and experience are apt to presume on these protections; but the fever is caught before it is felt, and poison may be received into the stomach, before the patient is aware that he has swallowed it. Chastity runs sufficient hazards without unnecessarily rushing forth into temptation, or playing with traps that are purposely set to ensnare virtue.
Among the many incentives to seduction, that of Novel reading most assuredly ranks as one; not but flowers may sometimes be
gelected; but weeds, pernicious fatal weeds, too often overrun the garden; the fruita deleterious as is the greater part, disguises itself in the exuberance of leaves : the main, drift of such writing is to interest, to agitate, and to convulse the passions, and is but too prone, by a sympathy of sentiment to lead the mind astray; if such reading does not disgust and tire by its usual þombast and inanity, it effects on the juvenile reader, what the hot-bed does tọ tủe tender plant: and gives a dangerous precosity of sentiment: the notes once taught, a desire to play on the instrument will naturally succeed.
The very mummery of tale, which swindled tears from the eyes, and transport from the heart, which gave sensations it could not relieve, has left a train of gunpowder in the mind, and, in such a manner, that one chance spark of fire might be sufficient to blow up reputation, and make a bankrupt of virtue.
An elegant writer* thus expresses himself on the subject :-"We consider the general fun of Novels as utterly unfit for you. Instruction they convey none: they paint scenes of pleasure and passion altogether improper for you to behold, even with the mind's eye: their descriptions are often loose and luscious in a high degree: their representations of love between the sexes are almost universally overstrained: all is dotage, or despair; or else ranting swelled into bura lesque. In short, the majority of their lovers, are either mere lunatics, or mock-heroes." ;
Against compositions, which are thus highly seasoned for the pruriency of appetite, some restriction should be made; and without abridging the liberty of the press might be attempted. A suitable taxation on these writings might operate as a very salutary check to their daily inundations; the in
* Vide Fordyce's Sermons to Young Women,