A celebrated author has justly remarked that Christian women can, like the guardian angels, invisibly govern the world; and the author of the |Serious Hours of a Young Lady
| has very appropriately made this truth the basis of his book, since the object that he had in view in writing it was to point out the important role that woman plays in society, and to give the young girl such instructions as will enable her, in due time, to discharge, in a worthy manner, the duties of her calling. In doing this he has given evidence of very elevated views and of a profound knowledge of the human heart. The book is a tissue of practical counsels, couched in the clearest and most delicate terms.
Hence, judging from its intrinsic worth, and the universal welcome with which it has been hailed in the original, we feel that it is no exaggeration to assert that it has rendered and will still render inestimable good to society.
After having lucidly exposed the importance of woman's mission in this world, and pointed out the evils that prevent its realization, the author ingeniously brings before the mind's eye the different phases of her life, the varied process of development that she undergoes in all her faculties, the dangerous influences to which she is constantly exposed, the means that should be employed to ensure her protection.
We behold her on the threshold of childhood a tiny, timid and retiring creature, naturally disposed to attach her affections to all that is pure and elevated, to everything that conduces to the practice of virtue and the love of God. While yet a child she is the little confidante and angel of consolation of her brothers and sisters in their pains and difficulties. At a more advanced age we see her consoling her aged parents in their sorrows and afflictions; and when she merges into womanhood she becomes either the spouse of Jesus Christ or of man, only to continue the same work of beneficence in some charitable asylum, or in the midst of domestic cares. But ere she attains this last stage of life how numerous and great are the difficulties that she must encounter, the dangers to which she will be exposed, and the snares to entrap her!
Hence, to ensure her safety and prepare her to act the important role that she holds in society, her education must be the work of piety, modesty and retirement. All that interferes with their action in her soul must be peremptorily removed. Worldly pleasures with their numerous cortège should never have access to the sanctuary of her heart, for their poisoned influence blasts the fairest flower in her crown of simplicity.
But, alas! we confess, with deep regret, that there are many thoughtless tutors who seemingly ignore the grave responsibility of their charge, and unwarrantably parade the little one before the world's gaze, which creates in the heart evil impressions, frivolous tastes and inordinate desires. And, even when they would all prove faithful to their trust, it is a noted fact that society, friends and companions wield a powerful influence over the mind and heart of a young girl, which, when allowed to continue, most invariably proves pernicious to her spiritual and temporal welfare.
Hence, she stands in need of a true friend, a faithful adviser, on whom she can depend for safe instruction, and to whom she can have recourse as often as need be. The |Serious Hours| is unquestionably all this; it speaks openly, firmly, but mildly. It inspires the young girl with that genuine, lofty esteem that she should have for herself and for the dignity of her sex. It clearly defines her line of conduct in all the most critical incidents and circumstances of life, so that she cannot be deceived unless that she wilfully shuts her eyes to the light of truth. It is all that the author proposed to make it, a first class book of instruction for young ladies, showing a careful study of all their wants and a happy choice of the remedies to meet them. And, believing that such a valuable book ought to be made accessible to all nations, we have ventured to present it to the public in an English dress. How far we have succeeded in rendering both its form and spirit we leave the public to decide. And, while we are fully aware that, in transferring the genius of one language to another, some of the original delicate shades of beauty must be inevitably sacrificed -- the present translation not excepted -- still we are happy to say that the work was one of love and deep interest to us, on account of its importance and good to society.