Sivut kuvina

We see

I have thus slightly and inadequately surveyed the influence of the female character. that the manners, the intellectual, the moral and the religious character, in one word, the best interests of man, are most intimately connected with the dignity, the purity, the intelligence and virtue of the female mind.

This view of the importance of your sex has been presented to you, my friends, not, I trust you will believe, to feed your self-complacency, but to remind


of your high duties. It is a call upon you to reverence yourselves as the guardians and instructers of mankind. It is a reply to those idle suggestions, which have sometimes been made, that even in christian lands the condition of woman is degraded, by the denial to her of that share of influence, and of those equal rights, for which nature intended her. Compare the condition and pursuits of the mass of men with those of woman, and tell me on which side lies the inferiority. While the greater part of our sex are engaged in turning up the clods of the earth, fashioning the materials which are to supply the physical wants of our race, exchanging the products of the industry of different countries, toiling amidst the perils of war and the tumults of politics, to you is committed the nobler task of moulding the infant mind; it is for you to give their character to succeeding ages; it is yours to control the stormy passions of man, to inspire him with those sentiments which subdue his ferocity, and make his heart gentle and soft; it is yours to open to him the truest and purest sources of happiness, and prompt him to the love and reverence of virtue and religion. A WIFEa MOTHER! How sacred, how venerable these names ! What nobler object can the most aspiring ambition propose to itself, than to fulfil the duties which these relations imply! Instead of murmuring that


field of influence is so narrow, my friends, should


not rather tremble at the magnitude and sacredness of your responsibility ? When you demand of man a higher education than has hitherto been often given you, and claim to drink from the same wells of knowledge as himself, should it not be, that you may be thus enabled, not to rush into that sphere which nature has marked for him, but to move more worthily and gracefully within your own.

But I am aware that I am not addressing those by whom these considerations have been overlooked. It is the testimony of a profound and sagacious traveller, who has observed every variety of civilized life, that the females of New England are distinguished above all others for their

personal care of their offspring. What exalted praise is this! My heart swells with exultation to believe that my countrywomen merit it. It is a far nobler eulogy than if it were said of


you nursed by the graces, encircled with the cestus of the queen of beauty, and that all the muses had poured their inspiration into your minds. Prize that praise, my friends. It is the richest gem which can adorn you. Seek to add nothing more to it, than that as you are more distinguished for your care, you are also more qualified to bestow it. Let it be said of you, that you prefer the virtues of the female character for your children, before its accomplishments, their minds before their bodies, and above all, that it is your chief care, to pour into their hearts and understandings the pure illuminations of the gospel of Christ, in all its simplicity, loveliness, and power. .


But in the interesting little group, which your humanity has brought together, I see a striking proof that you feel your duties as christians. I hail it as a pledge that you have that enlarged benevolence of the gospel which interests you, not only in your own offspring, but in all the children of want and sorrow. You will continue, I doubt not, in the good work of mercy and love which you have begun; and grow even more zealous in it. You will feel towards these little ones the responsibility of parents, and seek to bring them up in those habits of industry, sobriety, prudence, foresight, virtue and religion, which will make them hereafter useful to society. Go on then, my friends, to fulfil your high and honourable vocation. Your children, and these children of your pity too, shall rise

and call


blessed-blessed as the instruments of heaven's bounty, blessed as the guardians and ministers of human virtue and happiness ; blest even in this life-how eternally, how unspeakably blest in another !

I turn now to ask all who have assembled on this occasion, and to ask you with confidence, my friends, to lend your aid to the exertions of these pious and benevolent females. If you acknowledge with me the importance of the character of the female sex to mankind, you will need no other argument to convince you of the value of this charity. It is its noble object to rescue these tender orphans, not merely from suffering, but from neglect and degradation; to make their future influence on society the influence of virtue and innocence and intelligence, instead of the influence of ignorance and perhaps of depravity. Think not lightly of their importance, because their future condition in society will probably be humble. In our country it is absurd to talk of


other distinction of ranks than is given by distinction of character. We are all so necessarily connected together by our political institutions, that each class of society acts and reacts on all the rest; and it is not possible that one part should be degraded and corrupt, without extending its malignant influence to the rest. You are not less interested, therefore, in the character of those whom these little ones are hereafter to influence, than in that of those, whom

you regard as your companions in life. As then the peace and happiness of society depend on the virtue and intelligence of its members; and as,


you make woman enlightened and pure, you make man virtuous and good, I might call on your self-love as well as your benevolence, to impart your aid to this institution.

But if all this were otherwise, still I could not endure to hear that these children had a light claim upon you, because born to obscure and humble life. Have they not souls as worthy of cultivation, as immortal as your own ? Can you

abandon them to misery, perhaps to ruin, because they are not born to the comforts with which


your children are blessed ? Was it their crime to be so early deprived of a parent's tenderness and care; or to find their parents, if spared to them, unable to save them from suffering and want? Are you sure that by no conceivable revolution of this changing life, some whom you so tenderly love, may be reduced to need a similar compassion, with no other claim upon it than these little ones now advance ?_“ To the poor the gospel is preached." The Son of God disdained not to utter the glad sounds of salvation and hope to souls like these, And shall we find nothing to move us in such an example ?

I beseech you, in the name of that affectionate Saviour, who died for us all ; of him, who carries the lambs in his arms and folds them in his bosom; of him, who if he were now on earth would

say, * Suffer these little children to come unto me, and

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