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EDUCATING DAUGHTERS: CONDUCT BOOKS AND NOVELS IN LATE EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY BRITAIN BY LAUREN KELL A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Social Sciences New College of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts Under the co-sponsorship of Dr. David Harvey and Dr Miriam Wallace Sarasota, Florida May, 2013
Kell ii Table of Contents Table of Contents .ii Abstract ...iii Introduction ..1 Chapter One: Conduct Books and Inculcating Morals a nd Manners ..9 Chapter Two: Manners and Morals Applied: Novels and Women Readers ..47 Conclusion .89 Appendix: Novel Family Trees . .95 Bibliography ..97
Kell iii EDUCATING DAUGHTERS: CONDUCT BOOKS AND NOVELS IN LA TE EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY BRITAIN Lauren Kell New College of Florida, 2013 ABSTRACT Female education in late eighteenth-century Britain took a number of different forms that contributed to the creation of an ideal feminine form. In this thesis two of these forms, conduct books and novels, are examined with the purpose of determining the nature of education for elite and genteel young wom en, as well as the fears and anxieties that underpinned this education. Each genre provide s different opportunities for educators to determine the best method to instruct young wome n and expanded the range of topics that could be explored. Conduct books by both men a nd women from various religious, political, and generational backgrounds are examine d in an attempt to determine common themes and anxieties across a broad spectrum of ide ologies, while fictions examined are exclusively female-authored. Conduct books provide theoretical behavior and ideo logies for women to follow, while novels show that behavior in practice and pro vide some possible consequences of either following or ignoring the advice that conduc t books provide. Neither genre is either fully historical or fully literary; each genre has elements of both that when examined together allow for a more nuanced vision of what yo ung women were expected to know and how they were expected to behave. David Harvey and Miriam Wallace Division of Social Sciences
Kell 1 Introduction Throughout the eighteenth century new ideas were be ing formulated regarding human nature and education. Beginning with John Loc ke, humans were being increasingly seen as malleable beings affected by t he education they received and the situation in which they were born and raised. Thus, methods of education were constantly being debated and refined. Despite the popularity o f ideas like tabula rasa the blank slate theory of the development of the mind, men a nd women were still seen as fundamentally different and educational practices r eflected these differences. In the eighteenth century a shift was occurring in how women, and especially female sexuality, were being viewed. In the sevente enth century the prevailing view of women was still that they were naturally sinful and therefore inferior to men. They must be regulated by those better able to reason and pro vide judgment. Women were not a separate sex but an inferior form of the male sex, which once again made them subject to the superior form. In the nineteenth century, the p revailing image would be that of the angel in the home who is responsible for the moral education of the sons that would one day take a prominent position in the world. By that point, the idea of two distinct and complimentary sexes that each fulfilled specific ro les was well ingrained in English culture. The eighteenth century sees the transition between these two ideas, facilitated at least in part by the Enlightenment, though it has a lso been argued that Puritan ideals played a fairly substantial role in the creation of the idea of complementary sexes.1 Women were no longer seen as simply an incomplete m ale; they were becoming a 1 Carol Houlihan Flynn makes this argument in her di scussion of Daniel Defoes work as conduct literatu re in her contribution to The Ideology of Conduct: Essays on Literature and t he History of Sexuality Nancy Armstrong argues in her contribution to the same wo rk that the Puritan conception of complementary sex es was further developed due to the British Enlightenm ent into the idea of the middle-class domestic woma n and economic man.
Kell 2 separate biological sex and gender of their own. Ne w notions about how men and women could and should relate when one was not inherently inferior to the other began to emerge. The concept of the complementary nature of the sexes was one of the most prevalent and long lasting. In this conception of t he sexes, men and women each had abilities and roles that they needed to perform. Ne ither could perform the role of the other, but both were equally needed to create an id eal marriage and society. The education of men and women reflected these new idea s regarding the different sexes purposes. In addition to developing ideas regarding gender an d human nature, economic changes in the eighteenth century changed education in Britain. This time saw the development of the middle class and definite moves towards laissez-faire economy. The period generally known as the industrial revolution began around 1750, but in the hundred years before that time, agricultural, indus trial, and colonial developments meant that England was becoming increasingly wealthy and powerful and the middle class was also becoming wealthier and more influential. By th e end of the century, the industrial revolution was in full swing and Britains already complicated social hierarchy was made even more so. For much of the eighteenth century, t he highest social levels seemed to have only the vaguest idea of those below them desp ite the fact that a growing middle class can be discerned in this time period. Those w ho were considered beneath the gentry or aristocracy were considered either of the middl ing sort or the working or pauper classes. As the century progressed industrialization allowed the middle class to grow and aristocratic ideals to be marginalized. At the end of the century, the definition of
Kell 3 genteel was broad and many claimed the title desp ite sometimes dubious qualifications. Amanda Vickery in The Gentlemans Daughter: Womens Lives in Georgian England uses the term gentility to define what historians today might call the middle class. She explains this word choice by pointing out that th e polite and the genteel are the only terms consistently used by the women [she] studied to convey their social prestige. They had no recourse to a vocabulary of upper, m iddle and lower classes.2 Vickery identifies the genteel as being made up of landed g entry as well as those involved in the professions, namely clerics, lawyers, doctors, and military officers. Much of the historiography of the period gives the impression o f impermeable upper, middle, and lower classes, yet the contemporary definitions wer e in fact incredibly fluid. This is especially evident in the baronetcy. A baronet is d efined as a titled order, the lowest that is hereditary, ranking next below a baron, having p recedence of all orders of knighthood, except that of the Garter. A baronet is a commoner, the principle of the order being to give rank, precedence, and title without privilege. 3 Baronets thus held an inherited title, yet they were not technically members of the peerag e as they did not inherit a position in the House of Lords. Instead they were a part of the landed gentry. Yet their title set them apart from the majority of the landed gentry and al l orders of knighthood as their title was inherited and knighthoods are not. Because of this fluidity of the social hierarchy, it is often difficult to determine precisely to whom a li terary work might be aimed. It is easy simply to claim that a work is anti-aristocratic or bourgeois, but it is difficult to determine who might or might not fit into those categories. W ith increasing social mobility due to new economic opportunities, this task is made more difficult as those of a lower social 2 Amanda Vickery, The Gentlemans Daughter: Womens Lives in Georgian England (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998), 13. 3 Oxford English Dictionary Online s.v. baronet, accessed 16 April 2013, http://ww w.oed.com/.
Kell 4 sphere aspired to reach new social status. Educatio nal practices reflect this mobility and the concerns with which it was associated. Conduct books were a popular means of education in the eighteenth century, especially in the second half of the century with a peak in popularity in the 1790s. They provided a simple manual of instructions of how to behave and what to study. Unlike earlier courtesy books which were aimed predominant ly at men, the majority of conduct books were written for young women. Didactic novels could also provide moral and intellectual aid for the reader. Neither genre prov ided a specific syllabus for a scholar; few conduct books and even fewer novels provided a list of books that would provide a particularly profitable course of study. Instead th ese books told the reader the types of subjects to study, the pastimes that were the most constructive or moral to partake in, and the attitudes that were most beneficial for a woman to assume in her day-to-day life. Studying these genres allows us to determine what w as expected of young women in the eighteenth century. By examining conduct books and novels together, we can begin to have a better understanding of how elite and gentee l women were educated. Each genre provides different opportunities for educators to t ake advantage of in determining the best method to instruct young women as well as the range of topics that can be explored. Though both genres provide largely idealized vision s of eighteenth-century femininity, they are nonetheless useful sources for determining what young women were expected to be and how they were expected to behave. My first chapter examines late eighteenth-century c onduct literature for young women. Books by both men and women from a variety o f backgrounds are examined in an attempt to determine common themes and anxieties across a broad spectrum of
Kell 5 ideologies. James Fordyce in Sermons for Young Women (1766) wrote a series of sermons. Hester Chapone in Letters on the Improvement of the Mind (1773) wrote a number of letters to her niece that she later publi shed. John Gregorys book, A Fathers Legacy to His Daughters (1774) is a short series of ideas originally inten ded solely for his daughters use. Thomas Gisborne wrote a treatis e titled An Enquiry into the Duties of the Female Sex (1797) that builds upon an earlier work he wrote f or men. Priscilla Wakefields conduct book Reflections on the Present Condition of the Female Sex with Suggestions for its Improvement (1798) is as much an economic treatise as it is educational advice to women. Mary Wollstonecrafts Thoughts on the Education of Daughters (1783) is similar to Gregorys in that it is a sho rt series of ideas, but she wrote hers explicitly for publication and therefore had a more general audience in mind. All of these books enjoyed considerable popularity and wer e printed for decades after their original publication. For the most part, all six au thors agree on how young women should be educated and their proper role in the public and private spheres, despite often contradictory justifications. There was however a slight split between the concer ns of the male and female conduct book authors. The primary concern of the ma le conduct book authors is how the actions of women will affect others. However, the p rimary concerns of female conduct book authors generally revolve around the best ways for women to live their own lives. Both Fordyces and Gisbornes books are rife with a nxieties regarding the influence that women will have on men and how womens behaviors an d pastimes will affect their relationships with men. The women, on the other han d, are far more concerned with how womens decisions affect themselves. Thats not to say that womens relationships with
Kell 6 men are never considered, for they most certainly a re. It is simply that those relationships are simply one more aspect of womens life that doe s not necessarily consume them in the way that the books of Fordyce and Gisborne migh t lead the reader to believe. However, despite these different focuses, all the a uthors spent the most time worrying about womens position in the public sphere and how a womans education affects that position. The second chapter examines four didactic novels fr om the 1780s and 1790s that were written by women and with substantial focus on the education of young women: Jane Wests The Advantages of Education (1793), Susanna Rowsons Charlotte Temple (1794), Elizabeth Inchbalds A Simple Story (1791) and Frances Burneys Evelina (1778). Each of these novels fits within a very specific ty pe of novel. Didactic fiction was a popular genre throughout the eighteenth century as it allowed the author to instruct and educate the reader at the same time. Didactic ficti on could take a number of forms. Often authors would tack on a moral of some kind to justi fy the telling of what otherwise would be an outrageous story; this was a practice that wa s especially popular in genres such as gothic literature. None of the four above novels us e morality solely as a front for telling an exciting story, however. All of these novels are successful in actually conveying an educational message that is supported throughout th e novel. Their explicit purpose is to show young women how to behave in the world under a variety of trying circumstances. All of the novels begin around the time that the he roine is first joining society, and so the author must first establish what kind of education the heroine has received, and clarify the situation in which she was raised, before the e vents of the novel begin. After the initial education has been established, the bulk of the novel is then devoted to displaying
Kell 7 how this education affected the manner in which the heroine conducted herself in society. Though all four women ultimately make very similar arguments regarding what is necessary for female education, the backgrounds of the authors vary greatly. Jane West (1758-1852) was a conservative writer of poetry, no vels, and conduct literature; her social status is somewhat questionable due to her h usbands position as yeoman farmer. However her obituarist took great pains to disassoc iate her from a lower status and claimed that she achieved gentlewoman status from her literary achievements.4 Susanna Rowsons (1762-1824) father was a part of t he Royal Navy, and she grew up near Boston until the American Revolution, at which point her father was taken as a prisoner of war for his loyalist views. Though Rows on was born in Britain and spent part of her adult life there, she considered herself to be an American, especially after her husband was naturalized.5 Charlotte Temple is therefore most often considered important as one of the first American novels. However Rowson s writing is truly part of a transatlantic tradition that situates her as signif icant for British literary tradition as much as the American tradition. Elizabeth Inchbald (1753 -1821) worked primarily in theater as an actress, a playwright, and a translator of forei gn plays, and eventually as early theatre critic and complier. Her plays tended to display he r radical social and political views. Inchbald wrote only two novels, A Simple Story and Nature and Art (1796), both of which are didactic novels, the former written for y oung women and the latter for young men.6 Frances Burney (1752-1840) was an extremely popula r novelist. Evelina, Burneys 4 Gail Baylis, West, Jane (17581852), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008). 5 Steven Epley, Rowson, Susanna ( bap. 1762, d. 1824), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004). 6 Jane Spencer, Inchbald, Elizabeth (17531821), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).
Kell 8 first novel, gained her widespread literary notorie ty that eventually gave her access to the leading intellectual circles of the day, including the Bluestocking Circle, a leading group of female intellectuals. Her father, Charles Burney was also a well-connected composer and musicologist. Burneys succeeding novels were l ikewise great successes and most focused on female education and/or female difficult ies.7 7 Pat Rogers, Burney, Frances (17521840), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2010).
Kell 9 CHAPTER ONE: Conduct Books and Inculcating Morals a nd Manners Scholarship on conduct literature is somewhat spars e. There are few works that deal with conduct literature exclusively and even f ewer that examine individual conduct books at any length. Those works that do handle con duct literature can often be fairly contradictory. Part of the trouble in defining cond uct literature is that in many ways they are an amalgamation of numerous genres and styles t hat make creating a single, coherent definition difficult. In fact, the designation con duct literature is a modern, homogenizing invention as Vivien Jones points out i n her essay on pleasure in conduct literature.8 Each of the six conduct books that I will be exami ning takes a slightly different approach, and the authors more than likel y would not have seen their works as easily falling into the same genre. All of these bo oks, however, are aimed at young women for the purpose of the womans betterment, an d they often reach the same conclusions regarding female education, but their m ethods of improving and educating women are vastly different. Various authors have attempted to define conduct li terature and identify common characteristics amongst the authors of these works, with varying degrees of success. Marjorie Morgan, in Manners, Morals and Class in England, 1774-1858, provides an extremely helpful way to place conduct literature i n a broader history of advice literature generally. She examines the transition from courtes y to conduct to etiquette literature that she claims mirrors a rise in the middle-class and a shift in middle class ideals that is closely tied in with industrialization. Courtesy li terature was chiefly popular in the late medieval and early modern period with what is gener ally considered to be the last 8 Vivien Jones, The Seductions of Conduct: Pleasure and Conduct Literature, in Pleasure in the Eighteenth Century, edited by Roy Porter and Marie Mulvey Roberts (New York: New York University Press, 1996), 109.
Kell 10 English courtesy book published in 1774. Morgan arg ues that courtesy literature attempted to present a comprehensive picture of a p roper aristocratic gentleman. She claims that one of the most significant characteri stics common to courtesy books was their underlying assumption that manners and morals were inseparable and indistinguishable.9 In other words, the manner in which one comported oneself was indicative of inner worth. This idea continues long beyond the courtesy book, especially in novels. Conduct books are seen by Morgan as more religious than courtesy books and primarily the result of the intensification of Evan gelicalism in the last part of the century. Morgan sees all conduct book writers of this time a s Evangelicals who strove to make Christianity the guiding principle of human behavio r.10 This conception of conduct literature is narrow and over simplifies the often religious nature of these books, not least because conduct book authors came from a wide range of denominations, from the Church of Scotland, to the Quakers, to Church of En gland Evangelicals. In addition to this Evangelical connection between the books, Morg an notes that the writers were also all middle-class writers who assume a middle-class audience, though authors often maintained that their advice was applicable to all ranks, not just to the middle-class. Again, this over simplifies the complicated nature of the British social hierarchy and its fluidity. Morgan claims that unlike courtesy books, the main focus of conduct books was not providing the audience with a guide to behavior that would benefit the reader in navigating the social world, but rather, they stro ve to cultivate individuals encrusted 9 Marjorie Morgan, Manners, Morals and Class in England, 1774-1858 (Basingstoke: The Macmillan Press Ltd., 1994), 11. 10 Ibid, 14.
Kell 11 with the moral armour necessary to shield them from worldly persuasions.11 In many ways, this definition of conduct literature holds t rue; much of the focus of authors such as Gisborne and Fordyce is on moral behavior and the c onsequences of not following this behavior. Once again, however, this is overly simpl istic. Conduct books do often provide more concrete advice on how to navigate both the so cial world and the domestic world. Morgan sees nineteenth-century etiquette books as l argely unconcerned with any kind of religious education. Instead, etiquette boo ks codified behavioral rules which had already been considered natural for a half a cent ury. The rules laid down in these books and the principles underlying their practice had lo ng been in use before etiquette books came into use. The assumption of most etiquette boo k writers was that their audience was rising from the working or middle class into more p rosperous and exalted stations and therefore needed some aid in navigating the new wor ld in which they found themselves. Implicit in these books, quite unlike in courtesy a nd conduct books, was the idea that manners and morals were two entirely different matt ers that could be, and often were, disconnected. One could exhibit perfectly proper be havior in a public situation without having any kind of proper morals, and etiquette boo ks wished only to focus on ensuring the former; they were not at all concerned with the latter. What is important about the distinction that Morgan makes between courtesy, conduct, and etiquette literature is that conduct l iterature is created in a moment of transition. Such works are an amalgamation of court esy and etiquette literature that occasionally leans more towards one form than anoth er. These books are being written by men and women of various religious, political, and social positions in a time when society is changing, when there is great concern ov er the mixing of classes that 11 Ibid, 16.
Kell 12 industrialization and the rise of the middle class makes possible. The distinction (or lack thereof) between manners and morals is especially i mportant. There is certainly an idea pervading conduct literature that manners indicate morals but there is also a sense that the two are separate, especially when it comes to fashi onable behavior. Other scholars have examined conduct literature not solely as a product of the middle class that exemplifies ideas surrounding man ners and morals. In The Ideology of Conduct: Essays on Literature and the History of Se xuality, for example, a number of scholars explore conduct literature from medieval c ourtesy literature through the latenineteenth-century beauty system to argue that t he production of specific forms of desire has created and maintained specific forms of political authority, and that sexual desire therefore cannot be left out of political hi story.12 To demonstrate this argument, conduct literature was primarily explored, partiall y because conduct literature designates what kind of woman is desirable, both for women to become and men to desire. Moreover the editors argue that literary history ha s rarely considered conduct literature, despite the fact that there are parallels between the literature of conduct and the conduct of literature.13 Most of the arguments made within this collection reflect the idea that conduct literature for women possessed more political importance than had previously been generally accepted. Nancy Armstrong in her essay in this collection cla ims that the British Enlightenment gave rise to a new woman, a creature of feelings that naturally inclined to household management and caring for the sick, needy and young.14 Armstrong further 12 Nancy Armstrong and Leonard Tennenhouse, eds., int roduction to The Ideology of Conduct: Essays on Literature and the History of Sexuality (New York: Methuen & Co., 1987), 3. 13 Ibid. 14 Ibid, 11.
Kell 13 claims that it is not the new economic man but the new domestic woman who first encroached upon aristocratic culture. The new femal e was supposed to lack competitive desires and worldly ambitions, had to have an educa tion in frugal domestic practices, and was imagined to complement the new economic mans r ole as earner and producer with the domestic womans role as a wise spender and tas teful consumer. This new domestic woman was in strong contrast to the dissipated aris tocratic woman of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Armstrong claims that such an ideal relationship presupposed a woman whose desires were not of necessity attract ed to material things. But because a womans desires could in fact be manipulated by sig ns of wealth and position, she required an education.15 This new educational requirement for women, as wel l as the assumptions underlying this requirement, were compl etely unprecedented. Up until this point, it had been assumed that aristocratic women were the embodiments of corrupted desire and books related to women all took care to explain how this desire destroyed the virtues essential to wife and mother. Armstrong arg ues that with eighteenth-century conduct literature, an important change was made in understanding power: the language of kinship was severed from the language of politic al relations, which created the respective domains of the domestic woman and econom ic man. The biggest question that Armstrongs essay raises is how much of what is pre sent in conduct literature is a product of changes happening in the eighteenth century, and how much it is facilitating the changes. This is a difficult, and possibly impossib le, question to answer that would require more research in sources outside of conduct literature in conjunction with conduct books themselves. 15 Ibid, 97.
Kell 14 Female Influence Some of the commonly recurring themes within conduc t books appear transitory, mere superficial pieces of advice. However, there a re others that underpin the author's entire premise in writing a conduct book. The effec t of the influence that women wield on the people around them is one of the latter. Both J ames Fordyce and Thomas Gisborne bring up female influence early on in their conduct books, thereby keeping the effects of female influence in the mind of the reader througho ut her reading of the book. While Fordyce puts all of his opinions regarding female i nfluence together in one sermon and then moves on to other topics, Gisborne continually returns throughout his work to the idea of a woman affecting the behavior of her acqua intances, either directly or indirectly. The power of female influence underpins Gisborne's entire outlook regarding women and their role in society and in the family. Different from both Gisborne and Fordyce is Hester Chapone's approach to female influence. As Chapone is writing directly to a single young woman about how to enter society, she does not spend any time talking about more abstract ideas of the effect that women can have. Her advice is more practical a nd focused. Therefore she advises her niece to find an older female friend who can he lp guide her. Chapones female influence embodied in an older guide is more concre te and more visible than either Fordyce or Gisbornes in day-to-day life. All three authors reveal some of the period anxiet ies surrounding women's role in society and how women should be approached or treat ed because of this role. Fordyce is
Kell 15 primarily concerned with how men react to women and training women to act in such a way that most positively affects men; men are the p rimary actors in the world and if they may be "ruined" in some way, their means of ruin, n amely women, need to be contained. Gisborne's concerns lie with ensuring that women st ay at home as much as possible without venturing into the public sphere where they do not belong. As such he continually emphasizes that the smaller a woman's s phere of influence, the more good she can do for those around her. Finally, Chapone's concern revolves around the sometimes debilitating partiality that parents show their daughters as well as on the dangers in society to which women are naturally mor e susceptible. All three of these concerns are intimately tied wit h women's role in society and the dangers that the world outside of the home can pose to women. Each of these authors felt the need to try to find a way to let young wom en into society without damaging either the girls or the men that they will inevitably come into contact with. Yet women must be introduced to society at some point or else they wi ll never marry, a pressing concern in the eighteenth century, especially for women of the gentry. Working-class women could generally find some kind of work and that work gene rally did not lower their chances in the marriage market. Aristocratic women more often had independent fortunes that were large enough that they could support themselves in a respectable manner, and therefore they might not need to marry. Women from the gentry and professional classes, however, posed a serious problem. Very few of these women ha d fortunes large enough to support themselves should they be left without a male guard ian of some kind and the respectable options for work, such as becoming a governess or c ompanion, were a serious social debasement, especially for women coming from landed families. Should a woman decide
Kell 16 to enter into service of any kind, it was highly un likely that she would ever marry someone from her fathers social sphere if she marr ied at all.16 Some of the problems surrounding womens ability to marry can be traced back to the seventeenth century. The end of the seventeenth century and the beginning of the eighteenth century saw what some have called a demo graphic crisis. Landowning men were becoming less likely to marry or would marry w hen they were significantly older. Women, on the other hand, tended to marry young so that they would be able to start bearing children early and because fathers often wi shed to hand off the financial care of their daughters to their husbands. By the early eig hteenth century, most landed families were settling their properties by strict settlement which limited the heirs lands for life and ensured that it would pass on to the next eldes t son. Strict settlements also specified a capital sum be set aside for younger children. This meant that landowners would need to mortgage their estates to afford to provide settlem ents for younger children, a practice that would become onerous after several generations It was about this time that Hardwickes Marriage Act was passed in 1753, which was written to prevent heiress stealing a problem that was more common in novel s than in real life and bigamy cases caused by the lax enforcement of marriage law s. Younger sons were at the same time less likely to r eceive substantial financial support from their fathers, necessitating entry int o a profession. Once in a profession it could be many years before they were financially se cure enough to support a wife and children, if they ever were at all. This limited th e number of marriage options that women had. Furthermore, it is likely that landowners woul d have wanted to have control over 16 Olwen Hufton, Women without Men: Widows and Spins ters in Britain and France in the Eighteenth Century, Journal of Family History Vol. 9 (1984), 355-376.
Kell 17 their childrens marriages so that they could refre sh the familys finances, thus leading to Hardwickes Marriage Act, which raised the legal ag e of marriage for both men and women and made the act of getting married a more di fficult, formal process.17 All of this means that although womens influence w as often viewed as potentially damaging to men in the public world, it was nonetheless necessary that women be introduced into the public sphere. And alt hough it was a common conception that women had an adverse effect on men rather than vice versa, it was still important that women be introduced to the right men and be able to ascertain mens motives. Women were also seen as having a softening effect on men. This view became increasingly prevalent throughout the century. This largely rela ted to the two competing views of women and female sexuality that were dominant in th e preceding and proceeding centuries. The seventeenth-century tradition saw wo men as inherently sinful and therefore damaging to the men around them. The nine teenth-century tradition saw women as the angel of the home, a softening domestic figu re who provided comfort away from the rigors of the public sphere. During the eightee nth century as one conception of femininity made way for another the portrayal of wo men and their effect on men could often be contradictory. Conduct book writers rarely allude to this problem directly, but they all are aware of a womens potential for ruin should a young woma n be led to believe that she will be able to marry her suitor when he is not in a situat ion to support her and he knows it. In the next chapter I will examine Susanna Rowsons no vel Charlotte Temple (1791) in which the eponymous heroine is ruined because her l over is not financially secure enough 17 Erica Harth, The Virtue of Love: Lord Hardwickes Marriage Act, Cultural Critique 9 (Spring, 1988), 129-30.
Kell 18 to support her since Charlotte had no dowry to supp lement his income. His fathers advice is likely how many men of the time acted: do not marry until youve earned a higher income or unless she has a large marriage po rtion. Most of the time, blame is placed on the woman should she find herself in an u ndesirable situation. Often women are seen as exerting a negative influence on men th at leads men to pursue romantic attachments that cannot end in marriage. Thus in co nduct literature, women are generally told to avoid misusing their influence rather than to avoid men of questionable intent. This is especially important considering that young women had virtually no control over with whom they come into contact. Wome n could not solicit introductions, they did not have control over who tried to obtain an introduction with them, and they also had no control over who did or did not come to visit. Novels of the time amply show that women were often at the mercy of mens inclina tions in social situations both outside of and within the home. Now we turn directly to the conduct literature itself. James Fordyce (1720-1796) was a Church of Scotland minister who became an increasingly popular preacher in the 1750s. In June 1760, he was appointed as colleague to Samuel Lawrence, the minister of the Presbyteria n congregation meeting at Monkwell Street in London. While at this post he became one of the most celebrated and fashionable preachers in London. This is likely due to the fact that his sermons tended more towards the sentimental than towards the theol ogical. His most famous printed work was Sermons to Young Women but Addresses to Young Men (1777) was popular as well. Both works went through numerous printings an d continued to be widely read
Kell 19 through the beginning of the nineteenth century eve n as Fordyces appeal as a preacher declined in the 1770s.18 Fordyce's Sermons to Young Women is a series of sermons that can be read individually which means that each topic tends to b e self-contained and addressed in one sermon, though there are a few topics that take up two sermons. The first sermon of the collection, "Importance of the Female Sex, especial ly the Younger Part," is devoted to detailing the numerous ways in which women affect t he people around them, men and women, children and adults. In this sermon, Fordyce addresses a number of instances of female influence, from parenthood, to a daughter's role in maintaining the reputation of the family, to the effect that women have on indivi duals of the opposite sex. Interestingly, Fordyce does not truly address the effect that wome n have on other women at all. He briefly states that women affect each other and the n concludes, "But I hasten from so painful a topic, to consider the importance of your sex in another light."19 In this evasion of considering the mutual interest between women, a s well as the inordinate interest he takes in male and female relations, Fordyce reveals as his key concern how female behavior could adversely affect men's ability to ac t as morally and as competently as possible in the public sphere. Fordyce reveals through his extensive discussion of relationships between men and women, just how he sees women as corrupting or uplifting figures to men, depending on their circumstances. After spending some time co nsidering the role in the family that young women play as daughters, with considerable fo cus on the disastrous effects of a 18 Alan Ruston, Fordyce, James (17201796), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008). 19 James Fordyce, Sermons to Young Women, 1766. In Female Education in the Age of Enlightenment, Vol. 1 edited by Janet Todd (London: Pickering & Ch atto (Publishers) Ltd., 1996), Vol. I, 30.
Kell 20 girls ruined reputation on the entire family, Ford yce goes on to enumerate exactly how women impact the men that they interact with in the ir lives. He begins this section by claiming that "There is in female youth an attracti on, which every man of the least sensibility must perceive. If assisted by beauty, i t becomes in the first impression irresistible. Your power so far we do not affect to conceal. That He who made us meant it thus, is manifest from his having attempered our he arts to such emotions. Would to God you knew how to improve this power to its noblest e nds! We should then rejoice to see it increased: then indeed it would be increased of cou rse."20 Female "sweetness and virtue, capacity and discretion"21 are presented as primarily qualities to be used to touch the hearts of men. With this in mind, Fordyce's entire project is cast into a different light; no longer does it seem simply as advice to aid women, but rather advice to aid men by means of women's actions. From this point of view, female influence is incredibly dangerous and must be contained through books writt en by men who are naturally sympathetic to their own sex. The effect of women and effeminacy on men and by ex tension on the national character was a cause of concern in eighteenth-cent ury England. Michle Cohen examines this concern in connection to English fear s of French influence as well as the common conflation of Frenchness and femininity. Coh en claims that French influence was generally tied to the bewitching Pleasure, not only irresistible, but unnatural, ungodly, even. It was because this enchantment prod uced inordinate and exhorbitant desires that the English became other, effeminat e excess is precisely the site of incommensurable desire Frenchified, and the natio nal fibre was weakened and 20 Ibid, Vol. I, 18. 21 Ibid.
Kell 21 enervated.22 Politeness, or politesse, was rejected by Englishmen as a danger to English masculinity as it was connected with effeminacy and servility. As a result, politeness was domesticated and associated primarily with women. T he characteristics of politeness desire to please, self effacement, softness, and the graces23 were perfectly suited to female education but were qualities it was generall y believed that men should avoid. Because French qualities such as politeness were th us displaced onto women, women became a source of concern as possibly affecting th e masculinity of men. While it was expected that women exert a certain moral force on their families, that force, apparently, could only go so far before it became potentially d amaging to men. Fordyce reflects these concerns in his focus on womens influence on men t o the exclusion of a discussion of womens influence on each other. John Gisborne's advice does not seem quite as sever e in this light as Fordyce's. This is partially because Gisborne (1724-1773) firs t wrote Enquiry into the Duties of Men (1795) before he wrote Enquiry into the Duties of the Female Sex unlike Fordyce who published his sermons for women first Gisbornes latter work is considerably shorter than the former and was written because the former was so well received. Because he had already written a conduct book with men in mind, it appears that he was somewhat less concerned with fixating solely on womens relations hips with men in terms of their ability to influence those around them. Enquiry into the Duties of the Female Sex lays out the duties and expected behavior of women at all ag es and stages of life, just as the former did for men. Therefore while Gisborne was co ncerned with how men and women interacted and the effect that each had on the othe r, he was even more concerned with an 22 Michle Cohen, Fashioning Masculinity: National Identity and Langu age in the Eighteenth Century (London: Routledge, 1996), 6-7. 23 Ibid, 74.
Kell 22 individual's role in his or her own lives, especial ly spiritually. Moreover, his work was not a series of sermons that were meant to be direc ted to a wide audience on a religious topic, as Fordyces was. This difference is especia lly interesting to note, as Gisborne was a Church of England clergyman, where Fordyce was in the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. Gisborne, however, lived a quiet life as a country parson and writer rather than seeking notoriety as Fordyce had. Both Fordyce and Gisborne focused on issues of social morality but Gisbornes morality seems to have been more far ranging; he was part of the Clapham Sect, a group of evangelical Anglicans who took interest in matters such as abolition.24 Gisborne approaches the role of female influence p rimarily through looking at how it affects the woman who is influencing thos e around her, rather than those being influenced. Again, that is not to say that the woma n's acquaintances, families, and friends are not being considered they certainly are, but o ften the discussion is brought back to how rewarding it is for women to have such positive effects on the people around them. As a whole, Gisborne's primary focus was in delinea ting what women should do in a fairly limited part of the world. In many ways An Enquiry is not simply a book that tells women what they should focus on at different points in their lives, but an attempt to display the ways that female influence can be used and to urge young women to use their influence properly. The entirety of Gisborne's conc eption of the role of women is focused around the idea that they are useful and important at home, but should not attempt to move beyond their home into the public sphere. To j ustify keeping women exclusively at home, preferably in the country with little company he claims that women are most influential in small groups, on an individual level Women cannot affect large groups or 24 Robert Hole, Gisborne, Thomas (17581846), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Oct 2005).
Kell 23 the nation at large; that is the work of men. So Gi sborne frames the proper activities and the proper mental and religious framework of women around this idea that they are only influential in the home. Anne Mellors exploration of the impact of women wr iters on the public sphere sheds some light on Gisbornes insistence on keepin g women in the domestic sphere. Mellor sees the values of the private sphere assoc iated primarily with women moral virtue and an ethic of care infiltrating and fina lly dominating the discursive public sphere during the Romantic era. Women writers were primarily responsible for insisting that the conduct of the British governmen t must be moral that political leaders should demonstrate the same Christian virtues that mothers and daughters and fathers and sons were expected to practice at home.25 Gisborne was inculcating the domestic virtues that women were expected to pass on to thei r husbands and children; morals that women writers would then move on to insist men take part in outside of the home as well as within it. He recognized that women had a profou nd effect on the men in their lives and he was trying to ensure that the effect would b e a positive one. Very early on, Gisborne makes a point of assuring w omen of the usefulness of their constricted sphere. In regards to women who c hafe at this restriction because they wish to attain the same eminence as their brothers or excuse the mental indolence in which they have indulged, he writes that they are occasionally heard to declare their opinion, that the sphere in which women are destine d to move is so humble and so limited, as neither to require nor to reward assidu ity; and under this impression either do not discern, or will not be persuaded to consider, the real and deeply interesting effects 25 Anne Mellor, Mothers of the Nation: Womens Political Writing in England, 1780-1830 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000), 11-12.
Kell 24 which the conduct of their sex will always have on the happiness of society."26 It is very important that Gisborne address the concerns intell igent women would have with his plans early on so that he can safely address his po ints knowing that the opposition has been silenced. However, it is interesting that he w ould do so by claiming that they only complain because they are ignorant or at the very l east narrow-minded. He is framing a very specific mindset that all women should have re garding their role in the world and presenting all women who do not ascribe to that min dset as being purposely stubborn and therefore not worth arguing with. Within all of his more general advice, Gisborne mak es a point of explaining why women's influence is so much stronger at an individ ual level. For example, Gisborne takes the time to refute the idea that there is no benefit in going against custom when he is discussing city amusements in general. First he challenges the idea that going along with the crowd is not harmful to individual young w omen by posing some questions: "You say that you cannot reform the world. Cannot y ou reform yourself? How is a prevailing bad custom of any kind to be extinguishe d otherwise than by being abandoned by the individuals who have upheld it? And by what means have you been exempted from the general obligation?"27 The first step in aiding other people is ensuring that your own morality is properly aligned and that you are a cting on that morality. Only then can you think of showing other people the proper way to act. Gisborne then acknowledges that as his readers are not royal or noble, they ar e not likely to command the respect and attention of a large group. However, he immediately asks whether although 26 Thomas Gisborne, An Enquiry into the Duties of the Female Sex, 1797. In Female Education in the Age of Enlightenment, Vol. 2 edited by Janet Todd (London: Pickering & C hatto (Publishers) Ltd., 1996), 1011. 27 Ibid, 155.
Kell 25 [Your example] will not draw multitudes in its trai n; it may influence few; but are you certain that it will influence none? Is it possible for you to know beforehand, that it will not influence one ind ividual? And if it has a beneficial influence on one individuals, is this an effect to be despised? Is the very chance of such an effect to be disregarded ? But is it not probable, is it not almost certain, that the force of your ex ample will be more widely felt?28 The possibility of one person being affected by you r actions is more important than the even more sure possibility of a group not being aff ected or even of a group ridiculing you for prudish behavior. At the end of the book, Gisborne definitively state s once more that home is where women are most useful in his discussion of women as wives. He writes, "Home, therefore, is the place where the pattern which she exhibits in personal manners, in domestic arrangements, and in every branch of her p rivate conduct will be more carefully observed, and more willingly copied by her neighbor s in a rank of life similar to her own, than it would be in a situation where she was a lit tle known and transitory visitant. Home too is the place where she will possess peculiar me ans of doing good among the humbler classes of society."29 This final definition, placed at the end of the bo ok where it can be most memorable, is the most definitive example of G isborne's views on women's roles. Womens widest and most effective sphere of influen ce radiates from the home. Dana Harringtons article Gender, Commerce, and th e Transformative Power of Virtue in Eighteenth-Century England helps further to account for Fordyce and Gisbornes need to define the power of womens infl uence by their relationships with men by limiting women to the domestic sphere. She i dentifies "the emergence of a privatized, domestic view of virtue" as the means o f legitimizing a middle-class concept 28 Ibid, 157. 29 Ibid, 289-90.
Kell 26 of citizenship that allowed for the acquirement of wealth that the previous aristocratic civic virtue had denounced.30 Harrington recognizes female conduct literature as a primary site of the creation and inculcation of the middle-class domestic ideology that allowed middle-class men to profit. Women were now the calming forces on the economic men, rather than the catalyzing force for politesse that aristocratic women had been perceived to be. Both Fordyce and Gisborne dis play this concern about the nature of women outside the home. Gisborne in particular is very insistent in maintai ning womens position as influential only in small groups in the home, as fa r away from the public sphere as possible. Marlene LeGates makes a similar argument, calling on the influence of the Enlightenment in changing perceptions of women in t he eighteenth century: The image of chaste Womanhood represents a fantasy about what could be done with women in terms of social conditioning, testifying to the fai th in the infinite malleability of human nature.31 For LeGates, Fordyces and Gisbornes insistence o n protecting women at home is about creating the proper wife and mother w ho can continue the education of the next generation. Different from both Fordyces and Gisborne's advice is that of Hester Chapone. Chapone (1727-1801) was originally writing letters for her fifteen-old-year niece who was preparing to come out into Society within the n ext few years. She was later persuaded by fellow Bluestocking, Elizabeth Montagu e, to publish the letters as Letters on the Improvement of the Mind Chapone offered advice on a number of topics. Her 30 Dana Harrington, Gender, Commerce, and the Transf ormative Power of Virtue in Eighteenth-Century England, Rhetoric Society Quarterly Vol. 31, No. 3 (Summer 2001), 34. 31 Marlene LeGates, The Cult of Womanhood in Eightee nth-Century Thought, Eighteenth-Century Studies Vol. 10, No. 1 (Autumn 1976), 33.
Kell 27 advice is purely practical, things to remember as o ne enters the world, rather than more abstract strictures on proper behavior. It is when writing of female friendship that Chapone speaks of female influence, although she ne ver directly mentions or at least never names it as influence. However, Chapone fin ds friendship to be a pressing topic to discuss "because the connection itself is ill un derstood, and the subjects of it frequently ill chosen."32 The effects that friends can have on each other ca n be deep and longreaching and therefore it is imperative that friend s are chosen well. Furthermore, considering the age of Chapones original audience, it is not surprising that she would focus on the immediate problems that her niece woul d encounter, such as how to choose friends, rather than give extended advice on topics that are years in her nieces future. Chapone believes that the worst friendships are tho se between two girls of the same age because similarity in age and disposition "are circumstances which in a great measure disqualify them for assisting each other in moral improvements, or supplying each others defects."33 If the two girls cannot mutually benefit each othe r, then the friendship is worthless and may even be harmful. Ch apone believes that people should surround themselves only with others who can benefi t them in some way, primarily morally but also socially. Two equally inexperience d girls cannot benefit each other at all. Chapone, therefore, advises her niece to find a friend who is eight or ten years older than herself who can guide her through the world. C hapone claims that a friend such as this, will be able to advise and improve you and, your desire of this assistance will recommend you to her taste, as much as her sup erior abilities will recommend her to you.... With a friend such as I ha ve described ... you can 32 Hester Chapone, Letters on the Improvement of the Mind, 1773. In Female Education in the Age of Enlightenment, Vol. 2, edited by Janet Todd (London: Pickering & C hatto (Publishers) Ltd., 1996), 80. 33 Ibid, 80-81.
Kell 28 hardly pass an hour without finding yourself brough t forwarder in some useful knowledge without learning something of th e world, or of your own nature, some rule of behavior, or some necessar y caution in the conduct of life: for, even in the gayest conversa tions, such useful hints may often be gathered from those, whose knowledge a nd experience are much beyond our own.34 An older friend is supposed to take on something of a disinterested mentoring role; her only benefit from the relationship is the comfortin g knowledge of doing good for someone else. When a girl who has had the kind of f riendship described by Chapone has grown older, she is expected to enter into another such friendship on the opposite side, as the disinterested, benevolent older woman. In this sense, Chapone's conception of female influ ence is not terribly different from Gisborne's. Both see women as positively affec ting the people around them, through example or instruction, without any easily visible benefit to themselves. These kinds of friendships are also seen by both as part of the na tural development of a woman's role. Chapones conception of friendship, however, bears a strong resemblance to a form of professional friendship that was common among men i n the eighteenth century. Friendship more often denoted patronage than some thing like a modern conception of personal friendships. A friend would generally be o lder and able to help an individual to advance their social or political position. Alan Br ay examines this type of homosocial relationship in his book The Friend and writes that the principal difference between the friendship of the modern world and the friendship I describe in this book is that, in the traditional culture that it explores, friendship wa s significant in a public sphere.35 Chapones application of this kind of friendship to women is therefore unusual. It places women in the public sphere, thereby giving women an d their relationships greater weight, 34 Ibid, 82-3. 35 Alan Bray, The Friend (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003), 2.
Kell 29 especially when compared to how Fordyce and Gisborn e view female friendships. While Gisborne might have seen the benefits of female inf luence on a womans acquaintance, he devotes little attention to examining how women s friendships work on a more personal or even public level. His attention is dev oted more to how womens actions affect society at large or in her own personal dome stic sphere, not a slightly broadened social sphere that takes into account how women int eract away from men. Ornamental Accomplishments As the purpose of the conduct book is to instruct y oung woman on the best manner in which to spend her time, it is unsurprisi ng that the subject of accomplishments is canvassed in some form in all of the conduct boo ks examined here. For the most part "ornamental" accomplishments, as Gisborne and Prisc illa Wakefield classify them, are decried by all of the authors as a waste of young w omen's time and no real proof of a woman's worth or abilities as a wife. Ornamental ac complishments are generally considered those that serve no useful purpose other than to attract attention, such as a knowledge of French or Italian, fancy needle-work, dancing, and various musical skills. This conception of accomplishments as empty is in s tark contrast to the idea of politeness that was forwarded by courtesy literatur e. When manners and morals were considered as indicative of each other, the manner in which one appeared and the skills they were able to showcase were seen as proof of th e status and worth of the individual. With the rise of the middle class and push against aristocratic culture, as well as the rise of the Evangelical movement, conduct book writers s aw more need for the inner worth to be showcased in a more effective manner than throug h music, drawing, and dancing.
Kell 30 Even those who do not unequivocally decry what othe rs term ornamental accomplishments, such as Chapone, still qualify the ir approval of such activities. The main differences between authors in their treatment of these accomplishments are why they consider them to be a waste of young women's t ime. Due to the fact that all young women are expected b y all of these authors to stay at home as much as possible, it is certainly unders tandable that the authors are very anxious about what women do while at home. As certa in as these authors are that women will cause problems in the public sphere, they are just as aware that womens activities at home can cause problems, not only for the women the mselves but also for everyone in their lives. As such, conduct book authors need to delineate what are useful and what are wasteful employments for women. Wasteful employment s are nearly always ornamental accomplishments. Each author has slightly different reasons for why she or he finds such accomplishments wasteful. Chapone, Gisborne, and Fo rdyce cite religious reasons. Priscilla Wakefield is more concerned with an econo mic explanation. Mary Wollstonecraft's primary concern is the development of the mind. John Gregory, unlike any of the others, actually supports the developmen t of ornamental accomplishments. The approach that each of these authors take to ornamen tal accomplishments is directly related to her or his purpose in writing her or his conduct book. Despite their disparate manners of approaching ornamental accomplishments, all of these authors reveal their anxieties over the growing ability of lower social levels to pass as gentry, and of the potential effects of womens pastimes on their fami lies. Gisborne believes that female education should be most concerned with the vices to which women are susceptible, such as a fondness for novelty, habits of frivolousness
Kell 31 and trifling employment, a repugnance to grave stud ies, an unreasonable regard for wit and shining accomplishments, and a thirst for vanit y and applause. As such, he treats ornamental accomplishments with care. He seems to r ealize that ornamental accomplishments are in some degree necessary to att racting a husband but he does not want it to be the only engaging thing about the you ng woman. Thus, he does not uniformly denounce them but neither does he unequiv ocally praise them. They are the last thing a girl should learn, skills and activities t hat should add to the comfort and usefulness of the individual, but which should not be put ahead of foundational religious and moral concerns. Gisborne claims that such accom plishments are acquired "to supply her hours of leisure with innocent and amusing occu pations...and...to enable her to communicate a kindred pleasure with all its benefic ent effects, to her family and friends, to all who she is now, or may hereafter, be intimat ely connected."36 For Gisborne, the best way to ensure that ornamenta l accomplishments do not achieve primacy in young womens lives is to set st rict boundaries around what is acceptable. These accomplishments should never be d one to excess, meaning that they should not be the only thing that occupies a young woman's time. She may draw or play piano so long as she does not neglect some more imp ortant duty, such as religious instruction. The religious qualities of ornamental accomplishments should also be continually considered. For example, the music she studies should be a hymn or some other religious piece, and any art should enhance h er consideration of the creations of God. The only reason that ornamental accomplishment s are acceptable is because there really is nothing objectionable about the activitie s themselves; it is the fact that they take up too much of a young woman's life with which Gisb orne has a problem. Even the fact 36 Gisborne, 80.
Kell 32 that these accomplishments are important in courtsh ip is not too much of a problem as long as the young woman takes other issues into acc ount when choosing her husband. Fordyce organizes accomplishments into Domestic, E legant, and Intellectual. He claims that "the care of an household, all ages and nations have agreed to consider as an indispensable part of female employment, in every s ituation that admits it."37 It is unsurprising therefore that he sees elegant accompl ishments as activities that should only occupy time that is not needed for domestic duties. Like Gisborne, however, he is concerned with the idea that ornamental accomplishm ents can lead women to "affectation and caprice."38 Yet his discussion of some of these accomplishment s does not seem completely to fit this claim. For the most part, he agrees with Gisborne that ornamental accomplishments are to be partaken of very sparingl y because they will induce affectation and vanity and yet his reasons for supp orting certain activities seem also to promote vanity. For example, Fordyce readily accepts that dancing i s a proper and enjoyable past time for women and that even the Bible supports the idea that dancing is acceptable. He furthers this justification by asking "What is danc ing, in the best sense, but the harmony of motion rendered more palpable?"39 This question by itself does not seem strange but his answer to it is: Aukwardness, rusticity, ungraceful gestures, can ne ver surely be meritorious. It is the observation of a celebrated philosopher, who was deeply skilled in most subjects, that the principa l part of beauty is in a decent and gracious motion. Here, indeed, one cann ot help regretting, that this, which may be considered in some measure as th e virtue of the body, is not oftener seen in our country, as if the sole design of dancing was to supply the amusement of the heart. A modest but ani mated mien, an air at 37 Fordyce, Vol. I, 176. 38 Ibid, 175. 39 Ibid, 199.
Kell 33 once unaffected and noble, are doubtless circumstan ces of great attraction and delight.40 This is a fairly unexpected response, praising danc ing for its ability to confer grace rather than denouncing it as light and selfish entertainme nt. Here young women who do not dance are somehow at fault for they will display th e "aukwardness, rusticity, [and] ungraceful gestures" that he finds abhorrent. Yet h e immediately clarifies that modesty is key, that young ladies dancing at public assemblies is more often than not a bad idea because it "must gradually wear off that lovely bas hfulness so largely inculcated in a former discourse."41 His claims and his justifications for those claims do not quite match up, making it seem as if he is addressing an issue only because he feels as if he had to and therefore he justifies the activity in a way that s omeone like Gisborne would reject. This might be explained by the fact that Fordyces sermo ns were originally for the fashionable of London, a group that likely would not have recei ved a complete denunciation of dancing well. As such, he might have felt it necess ary to deliver some very qualified estimations of accomplishments. Hester Chapone has no problems with the accomplish ments that most of the other authors railed against and instead finds them neces sary for young women. She feels that dancing and French cannot be dispensed with and her only complaint regarding women learning music or drawing was they were sometimes d rawn by fashion to arts in which they have no natural skills. In fact, most of Chapo ne's concerns regarding accomplishments center around intellectual accompli shments. Perhaps she knew her niece well enough to trust that she would not devot e all of her time to needlework, dancing, and mediocre musical skills, and so instea d Chapone devoted her time to 40 Ibid, 199-200. 41 Ibid, 200.
Kell 34 dictating which languages or subjects the niece wou ld be best suited to learning. Perhaps Chapone simply did not find ornamental accomplishme nts to be nearly as much of a problem as her peers. Either way, her general advic e is that, "whatever tends to embellish your fancy, to enlighten your understanding, and fu rnish you with ideas to reflect upon when alone, or to converse upon in company, is cert ainly well worth your acquisition."42 Chapone trusts that her readers will be able to dec ide for themselves what is able to enrich them and does not universally denounce any o ne activity because she recognizes that everyone has different interests and talents. The primary complaint that Mary Wollstonecraft has regarding what she titles "exterior accomplishments" in her first conduct boo k, Thoughts on the Education of Daughters is that they do not improve the mind and instead "merely render the person attractive."43 Thoughts was Wollstonecrafts (1759-1798) first published w ork and she wrote it purely for profit. It was a popular work a nd it is fairly easy to see the beginnings of Wollstonecrafts ideology that would eventually be worked into her more well-known work, A Vindication of the Rights of Women However, it is also plain to see in Thoughts as well as in her fiction for young women that Woll stonecrafts thoughts on the education of women are not as completely radical as her reput ation would have one believe. Though she does believe that women can be as capabl e as men she also believes that most women focus too much of their attention on pur suits that are not worthwhile. She does not believe that learning to play a song or tw o or drawing a few pictures that the master finishes for the girl is any kind of accompl ishment worth celebrating. Instead she 42 Chapone, Vol. 2, 63. 43 Mary Wollstonecraft, Thoughts on the Education of Daughters: with Reflec tions on Female Conduct, in the More Important Duties of Life, 1783. In The Works of Mary Wollstonecraft, Vol. 4 edited by Janet Todd and Marilyn Butler (New York: New York University P ress, 1989), 12.
Kell 35 believes it generally just produces vanity, a vice that she sees as all too common amongst young women and which of course should be avoided i f at all possible. Wollstonecraft qualifies her disapproval of exterior accomplishmen ts by saying that if a girl does put considerable efforts into these accomplishments or, if she is particularly talented such that her efforts at these activities actually occup ies her mind, then there is nothing wrong with partaking in them. In fact, doing so will exer cise the mind, which "will give a variety to the character."44 In fact, Wollstonecrafts estimation of ornamental accomplishments is very similar to Chapone, however Wollstonecraft is far m ore severe in her estimation of the negative effects of half-heartedly pursuing accompl ishments. As with all aspects of feminine life, Wollstonecraft is concerned that wom en are not able to partake intellectually in life to the extent that men can a nd that womens participation in these activities will simply lower the estimation of wome n in the eyes of the world. Ornamental accomplishments, which are essentially designed to make a woman physically appealing or to emphasize her grace or sensibility without an y emphasis on developing the womans mind, can only be seen as detrimental by Wo llstonecraft. She sums up her thoughts on the topic most succinctly: "Exterior ac complishments are not to be despised, if the acquiring of them does not satisfy the posse ssors, and prevent their cultivating the more important ones."45 Women should not be encouraged to spend excessive time on activities that ultimately cannot benefit them, esp ecially if they actually prevent women from spending their time on more useful pastimes. 44 Ibid. 45 Ibid, 13.
Kell 36 Priscilla Wakefield's Reflections on the Present Condition of the Female Sex, with Suggestions for its Improvement is as much an economic treatise as it is a conduct book. Reflections was Wakefields (1751-1832) only book aimed at an adult audience; all of her other books were aimed at educating children, often through entertaining dialogues. Reflections was a part of Wakefields charitable endeavours wh ich included philanthropic works on behalf of children, women, and the poor, a n educational system for the laboring poor, a penny bank into which children deposited an y sum above a penny, and a frugality bank to encourage deposits from laborer s and servants.46 Wakefield firmly believed that women were just as financially capabl e as men and though she did not believe that the laboring poor should be equal to t he middling sort, she did believe that their situations could be improved. This economic i nterest affects Reflections so that her disapproval of ornamental accomplishments largely s tems from the fact that she does not believe that middle-class women will ever have any use for them. Ultimately, Wakefield's disapproval of ornamental accomplishmen ts is due largely to her belief that one's education should be suited to one's prospects (discussed in more depth later). Essentially, she simply does not see ornamental acc omplishments as fulfilling any useful purpose, not when there are other skills better sui ted to a womans role as wife and partner. As such, she has no problem with aristocra tic women learning music, dancing, drawing, foreign languages, and "costly works of ta ste"47 but she strongly objects to the daughters of tradesmen and mechanics doing the same 46 Ann B. Shteir, Wakefield Priscilla (17501832) Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004). 47 Priscilla Wakefield, Reflections on the Present Condition of the Female Sex, with Suggestions for its Improvement 1798, (New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1974), 58.
Kell 37 John Gregory wrote A Father's Legacy to His Daughters shortly after his wife's death so that he would be able to give his daughter s the advice that their mother would have given them. Gregory (1724-1773) was a Scottish physician and medical writer. Legacy was his only moral work, though he did write a num ber of papers for the Aberdeen Philosophical Society. In fact, Legacy s intense popularity is almost ironic given that it was his son who published it after hi s death; in his lifetime Gregory was known only for his work as a physician.48 His advice, therefore, is completely practical, with no thought given to higher moral or religious ideals. He wants to tell his daughters how to behave and is not coy about telling them tha t their role and the way that they are perceived by men are in many ways hypocritical. He wants them to do well in the world and does not particularly care if they follow any p articular religious or moral code as they do so. He made an effort to not teach them any religion, leaving it solely to his wife who had different religious beliefs than he (Gregory wa s Church of Scotland, his wife was Church of England). Gregory is primarily concerned with how his daughte rs appear, and so it is unsurprising that he would not give too much though t to whether or not certain accomplishments or amusements are useful or harmful In this regard, Gregory corresponds more strongly with the earlier courtesy book ideals than any of the other authors under consideration. He is greatly concerne d with natural taste, elegance, "the most perfect simplicity of heart and manners,"49 and putting up a front of piety and gracefulness that will attract a husband. Gregorys complete unconcern with the potential 48 Paul Lawrence, Gregory, John (17241773), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2008 ). 49 John Gregory, A Fathers Legacy to His Daughters in Female Education in the Age of Enlightenment, Vol. 2 edited by Janet Todd (London: Pickering & Ch atto (Publishers) Ltd., 1996), 21.
Kell 38 artificiality of his daughters behavior is unique among the conduct books under consideration, which makes the fact that Gregory is often cited as the most typical conduct book author all the more curious. Mary Moran argues that Gregorys conception of fema le nature, as outlined in his earlier work Comparative View of the State and Faculties of Man with Those of the Animal World (1765), illuminates the reasoning behind the seemin gly solely superficial nature of his conduct book. Moran argues that Grego rys desire to see his daughters presenting themselves as less intelligent than they actually are and learning superficial accomplishments more to attract some attention than to better themselves as part of a more general belief that those of superior intellig ence or ability should lower themselves to fit better with the common man.50 This conception of Gregorys ideology places him more firmly in an Enlightenment tradition than the other conduct book authors appear to be. The almost complete denunciation of ornamental acco mplishments is curious given the way that many historians mention conduct books. Courtesy and conduct books are often mentioned in historical research on the w ay in which women spent their time and they are generally cited as being positive towa rds activities such as music or drawing. Richard Leppert in Music and Image for example, states that most courtesy and condu ct writers of the period, like Mrs. Delaney, favored t he musical education of girls, though like her they were often imprecise about the suppos ed benefits expected to accrue from 50 Mary Moran, Between the Savage and the Civil: Dr. John Gregorys Natural History of Femininity, in Women, Gender and Enlightenment edited by Sarah Knott and Barbara Taylor (New York : Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), 8-29.
Kell 39 it.51 Leppert is far from the only historian to make suc h claims. From such a statement one would imagine that all courtesy and conduct boo k writers promote musical education of girls and yet none of the authors under consider ation here do. The treatment of ornamental accomplishments in these conduct books h ighlights the need to examine conduct literature in more detail than it hitherto has been. The blanket statements regarding conduct literature that many historians r ely on need to be examined further since the consensus among some of the most popular conduct books of the late eighteenth century examined here challenges how conduct books have been studied until now. Suiting Ones Education to Ones Prospects The importance of suiting one's education to one's prospects was emphasized in some form in all of these conduct books. What was m ost striking was how each author viewed women's prospects. Obviously the role of wif e and mother was most emphasized and in some, that was the only role that women were prepared for. As such, household management was a prominent topic of discussion. Yet even though household management was the most common method of discussing women's prospects, some authors acknowledged different methods. Priscilla W akefield, for instance, focuses heavily on the impact that economic status ought to have on womens education, while Mary Wollstonecraft focused on how intellect affect s a woman's prospects and her behavior as a wife and mother. Together and individ ually, the discussions of domestic management and womens prospects further reveal anx ieties surrounding the roles that women would fulfill, especially if they are not abl e or willing to marry. 51 Richard Leppert, Music and Image: Domesticity, Ideology and Socio-Cu ltural Formation in EighteenthCentury England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 28.
Kell 40 A large portion of Priscilla Wakefield's work is de voted to detailing what women at each level of society should expect to know and how to behave. The behavior that Wakefield highlights, however, is economic behavior ; far more attention is given to detailing the economic household obligations that w omen of all ranks of life must partake in as well as of the preparations necessary to fulf ill these obligations. Underlying this discussion is a concern over the increasing mobilit y of the society in which she lives. However, her concerns in regards to mobility are no t necessarily about the increasing ability that lower social levels have to pass as ge nteel but instead over whether or not girls who are taught to pass will actually be able to be securely settled if they do not marry into the gentry. In Wakefield's estimation, g irls of varying social levels are being taught skills and accomplishments that cannot actua lly benefit them in the lives that they will ultimately live. In learning these accomplishm ents, they are aiming to marry as well as possible and hoping to have no need to work. How ever, many of these women will not be able to marry into the gentry. They will either have to settle for someone of a lower social status or they will be forced to try to earn their living in as respectable a manner as possible. Either way, learning French, music, danci ng, and fancy needlework more than likely will not aid them at all. Wakefield saw the world as divided into four classe s: the nobility and those who rival them in power through high office or extensiv e hereditary possessions; those who have "a respectable subsistence approaching to opul ence" through learning, commerce, manufactures, or agriculture; those "whose honest a nd useful industry raises them above want, without procuring for them the means of splen did or luxurious gratification;" and
Kell 41 the labouring poor.52 Wakefields separation of classes was conservative fitting well with the general anti-Jacobin atmosphere of the 1790s. H owever, her ideas regarding the education of the women of each class were revolutio nary.53 Wakefield opens Reflections by challenging Adam Smiths concept of production l abor, taking the definition of what is productive farther than Smith did: It is asserted by Doctor Adam Smith that every indi vidual is a burthen upon the society to which he belongs, who does not contribute his share of productive labour for the good of the whole. The Do ctor, when he lays down his principle, speaks in defence, and the adva ntage of the community at large. He does not absolutely specify, that both sexes, in order to render themselves beneficial members of so ciety, are equally required to comply with these terms; but since the female sex is included in the idea of the species, and as women possess th e same qualities as men, though perhaps in a different degree, their se x cannot free them from the claim of the public for the proportion of usefu lness. That the major part of the sex, especially those among the higher orders, neglect to fulfill this important obligation, is a fact that must be a dmitted, and points out the propriety of an enquiry into the causes of thei r deficiency.54 The framework of Wakefields work is to fill the ga p that Smith ignored and enquire into why women neglect their obligation to the public to be useful. Wakefields conception of topics such as ornamental accomplishments, therefor e, follow a largely economic model related to usefulness, even as she adheres to argum ents common to other conduct book authors. According to Wakefield, only those of the first cla ss really should attain ornamental accomplishments because their husbands a nd fathers more than likely were not doing more than "ornamental" activities either. The second class could learn some of 52 Wakefield, 63. 53 Robert Dimand examines Wakefields mix of conserva tism and radicalism through her economic focus, especially in relation to other conduct book author s in An Eighteenth-Century English Feminist Respon se to Political Economy: Priscilla Wakefields Reflections (1798) in The Status of Women in Economic Thought edited Robert Dimand and Chris Nyland (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing Limited, 2003), 194-205. 54 Wakefield, 1-3.
Kell 42 these skills without too much damage, but they must also learn more useful skills because they did have duties pertaining to their husbands' stations that had to be performed. Women of the third class, however, should never eve n think about such wastes of time even if their father or husband is rising somewhat in society. Wakefield does not really suggest how women of the fourth class should behave but rather how women of higher classes should treat them. Wakefield knew that wome n of the laboring sort were more than likely never going to read her book so providi ng advice for them would have been useless. None of Wakefield's reasons for women of t he middling sort not developing ornamental accomplishments cites any kind of religi ous explanation, for though Wakefield does care about the general religious wel l-being of her readers, it is not her central focus. It is possible that Wakefields stat us as a Quaker a marginalized religious group that received little respect contributed to a disinclination to justify her position on religious grounds. Instead her focus is primarily e conomic; she needs no other justification. In addition to stipulating the kinds of skills that women of certain classes should and should not learn, Wakefield also provides examp les of the kinds of occupations that single or widowed women of each class could reasona bly pursue. Wakefield acknowledges that women may not always be able to d epend on their fathers, husbands, or brothers for support and would need to have some kind of respectable occupation to support themselves. She further argues that for wom en of the working classes especially, women deserve wages equal to those of men for compa rable work. Although the first and second classes are separated when Wakefield discuss es the Duties, Studies, and
Kell 43 Amusements55 of each class, they are grouped together when disc ussing Lucrative Employments.56 She believes that women of the first two classes s hould be able to find employment related to Literature.Paintings; Histo ric, Portrait and Miniature. Engraving.Statuary.Modelling.Music.Landscape.G ardening,57 many of which were not generally considered completely prop er occupations for women at the time. Wakefields estimation of proper occupations for elite women is simply that they must be such as are neither laborious nor servile, and they must of course be productive, without requiring a capital.58 Furthermore, Wakefield sees no reason why women who do partake in occupations of this sort should be socially penaliz ed; if a woman originally comes from a more affluent background and loses her father or hu sband, there is no reason for her social position to completely change. Therefore, sh e claims that it is a consolatory reflection, that amidst the daily vicissitudes of h uman life, from which no rank is exempt, there are resources, from which aid may be drawn, w ithout derogating from the true dignity of a rational being. 59 According to Wakefield, women of the third class a re in nearly every way equally suited to work as their ma le counterparts. As such, she feels that women can take over their husbands or perhaps even fathers businesses or trades with little problem and that women should receive e qual reward for the same work as men perform. Because she is so confident in womens abilities to provide for themselves in their original socio-economic sphere, she does n ot believe it is necessary to be educated in aspiration of moving into a higher posi tion. 55 Wakefield, 99. 56 Ibid, 123. 57 Ibid. 58 Ibid, 125. 59 Ibid, 139.
Kell 44 Mary Wollstonecraft spends a chapter discussing the Unfortunate Situation of Females, fashionably educated, and left without a F ortune.60 She assumes that girls who are sure of a fortune will not need to worry overly about what would happen to them should they be left orphaned. However, not all girl s who might have been well, or at least fashionably, educated would be left with a f ortune large enough to support themselves. As such, they would need to support the mselves somehow and more often than not they had not been taught how to do so. Wol lstonecraft claims that girls who are left in this state are more likely to be discontent ed; not only were they likely left to become a companion, either to a rich cousin or to a truly unlikable stranger whose own family would not live with her, they were also like ly not taught to be prepared to daily associate with people who would have once been belo w their notice as well as be cast out and poorly treated by those who had once been frien ds. These girls are likely to become bitter and miserable, and Wollstonecraft places all of the blame squarely on the parents. She believes that they should have been more carefu l about providing for their daughter and ensuring that she would not be left to fend for herself with no aid whatsoever. If Wakefield fears what will happen to girls of low er ranks who try to pass as if from a higher social standing, Wollstonecraft fears what will happen to girls of higher social standings who must live lower than they were taught to expect. In both cases, girls are not adequately prepared to work for their livin g, whether that is because they do not have the necessary skills or because they are not m entally prepared for the hardship. Either way, the young womens parents have failed t hem. There was considerable concern in the last half of the eighteenth century over what would happen to women who were for some reason unsupported by a man. Due to 60 Wollstonecraft, 25-7.
Kell 45 the numerous wars fought during the eighteenth cent ury, there was a dearth of men, meaning that there were fewer potential marriage pa rtners for young women. Added to this was the fact that men were marrying later than women so many women, if they did marry, had to marry men considerably older than the mselves. Wakefield and Wollstonecraft both are very concerned about what t he women who did not get married would end up doing. On the other hand, Chapones preoccupation lies wit h behavioral and intellectual instruction, though she does devote a chapter to Ec onomy. She presupposes that all women will eventually marry and therefore their edu cation should reflect that. She claims that economy is so important a part of a womans c haracter, so necessary to her own happiness, and so essential to her performing the d uties of a wife and of a mother, that it ought to have the precedence of all other accomplis hments. However, much of her advice on housekeeping could be used by single wome n if they had the benefit of a large enough fortune to support themselves. Much of Chapo nes advice regarding economy is suggestions on how to save money. Her reasons for t his are so that women can have the most money available for charity as their situation will allow but it could also allow a woman to live comfortably within her means. In stark contrast to this concern over preparing wo men for the world they will inevitably enter due to circumstances outside of th eir control is the attitude of the male authors under consideration. None of them spend any significant time discussing how women can earn a living. All of them presuppose tha t women will get married and have children; they consider no other options. Gregory a nd Fordyce do not even discuss domestic management in any detail. Gregory focuses his attention on his daughters lives
Kell 46 before they are married and completely ignores life after marriage beyond slight comments regarding what their life might be like if they are not careful about whom they choose for a husband. Though Gisbornes conduct boo k includes advice on all stages of a womans life, he does not really consider what will happen to women who do not marry; it is a foregone conclusion for him that marriage i s a womans only option. Even the state of widows is not considered in depth for they would surely have some family who would be capable of helping to care for them as well as s ome kind of settlement from their marriage contract or thanks to their husband. Fordyces sermons are solely concerned with female behavior and virtues. He gives no consideration to how women act as anything but wives and daughters and his only comments regarding domestic management are tha t all women, no matter their rank, should focus their attention to domestic accomplish ments because the description of the Virtuous Woman in Proverbs XXXI includes descriptio ns of domestic skills. The titles of his Sermons display where Fordyces preoccupations lie: On Modesty of Apparel; On Female Reserve; On Female Virtue; On Female Pie ty; On Female Devotion and Good Works; and On Female Meekness. Given that F ordyce is a reverend writing sermons, this focus is largely unsurprising. One wo uld expect his focus to lie with religious matters such as basic behaviors and virtu es. However, it does mean that concerns over the ultimate physical and financial w elfare of women were largely ignored by these writers. All of these men are focusing hea vily on an ideal of what womens lives will be like, perhaps an unsurprising emphasis for a genre that tends to focus on presenting an idealized form of feminine behavior.
Kell 47 CHAPTER TWO: Manners and Morals Applied: Novels and Women Readers The prevailing theory regarding childhood and educa tion in the late eighteenth century, as we have seen, was that people do not sp ring fully formed into adulthood. Instead, children are seen as malleable creatures, able to be molded into the proper form. The best educators in English fiction are usually b iological parents, with benevolent guardians as a close second. Boarding schools are d isplayed as inept if not downright reprehensible in their approach to educating young women, especially with regard to moral education. In didactic fiction, the moral edu cation of the heroine is given primary consideration over her intellectual or ornamental e ducation. This mirrors what conduct literature has to say about how young women should be educated but takes the conduct book advice one step further by illustrating how a girls initial education would affect the way the grown woman behaves at home and in social s ituations. Novels, therefore, provide a way of moving beyond the purely idealized womanhood that conduct books present to show long-term effects and outcomes. The re is still a level of fantasy present in novels, of course, but they are more useful to the reader for exemplifying how the lessons of conduct books might be applied to real life scen arios; they show young women moving in social situations, interacting with a var iety of people that a typical young woman might (or might not) actually meet. Determini ng the initial education of the heroine is essential to determining the effect that her education has on her social behavior. However, the bulk of the novel is equally interested in displaying the ways that education continues beyond the nursery or boarding school and into the real world.
Kell 48 In the four books under consideration, two of the h eroines are educated at home while the other three heroines are educated at a bo arding school.61 The two heroines educated at home are able to achieve happy endings in large part due to the wholesome moral education that they received there, either at the hands of their mother or under the guidance of a benevolent family friend. Of the thre e heroines educated at boarding schools, only one is able to achieve an ending comp arable in fortune to the first two heroines. The other two are led astray by their boa rding school education and ultimately punished for their parents failure to provide and support the development of the proper moral framework in their daughters. Taken together these novels point towards the belief that the biological parent is the only truly proper educator. The way that young women are expected to respond to their respective educations is the same, no matter where the womens education was received. Thus, the first part of each book is directed towards parents as readers, s howing them how they are supposed to educate their daughters with the conclusion backing up this initial lesson. The bulk of the novel, however, provides education for young women themselves, often displaying both proper and improper way to react in a variety of si tuations. Most importantly, young women are shown how to react to their suitors. In a ll of these novels the suitor provides some kind of education for the heroine, though that education is not always completely beneficial to the heroine. The prevailing trend reg arding the suitor/heroine educational dynamic is that the proper suitor will guide the he roine through social situations, providing her with a useful education in proper beh avior in the social world. The improper suitor, on the other hand, either introduc es the heroine to aspects of the public 61 A Simple Story is a two-part story. The first half of the novel i s devoted to Miss Milner while the second half tells the history of her daughter Matilda; I w ill be examining both women.
Kell 49 sphere that she would have been better off remainin g completely ignorant of, or leads her to behaviors that she should have avoided. No matte r the nature of the suitor, his role is to guide the heroine through her transitional role as an adolescent, no longer a young girl being taught the basics of proper behavior, but not yet a wife and mother ready to educate her own daughter. The proper suitor will be able to lead the heroine to her ultimate role as wife without any major mishaps, while the improper suitor represents a serious challenge to this happy progress. Childhood Education The novel with the most straightforward story regar ding the heroine's initial education is Jane Wests The Advantages of Education (1793). All of Wests works were didactic and conservative. She wrote conduct litera ture, poetry and numerous novels, virtually all of which focused on education; Wests reputation while she was alive rested on this didacticism.62 The entire purpose of Advantages is to correct the faulty education that Maria Williams received while at boarding scho ol. Due to financial straits, Maria's father was forced to go to the West Indies, which w as his only remaining source of livelihood. Maria's mother went with her husband bu t because she "hoped the period of her banishment would speedily terminate, she felt u nwilling to expose her only child to the danger of the sea, or the unhealthy climate of the new world."63 Thus, Maria was placed in the care of an unnamed relative until tha t woman's death, at which point she was placed in a boarding school. Maria looked to he r governess at the school, Madame 62 Gail Baylis, West, Jane (17581852), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008). 63 Jane West, The Advantages of Education 1793, (New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1974), Vol. I, 7.
Kell 50 Du Pont, as something like a parent because she "su pplied to [Maria] all those attentions, which children more happily circumstanced, receive from their parents."64 The novel emphasizes that substituting a governess for a biological parent is a poor way to educate a child. Even worse, Maria had been told by her caregiving relative that her parents were severe, obstinate, and tyrann ical people a fear that Mme. du Pont confirms to Maria, warning her that when they final ly appear they will provide much different treatment than that to which Maria has be en used. Moreover, upon the death of Maria's father, Mme. du Pont convinced herself that Maria was to be an heiress because she was accustomed to annex great wealth to the id ea of a Creolian.65 In eighteenthcentury fiction the West Indies carried a number of connotations, most of which were negative. A common trope was that the West Indies w as a source of quick, though tainted because of slave labor, wealth.66 As the headmistress of the school, Mme. Du Pont convinces everyone else of Marias imagined wealth, and thus raises Maria's expectations of how she should be treated and how she will live upon leaving the school. All of this suggests that Mme. Du Pont is far from altruistic in her dealings with Maria, implying by extension that this is a danger of boarding schools in general. She leads Maria to fear her own parents and make her ap prehensive of what will happen to her when they finally return from the West Indies. Mme. Du Pont encourages Maria to 64 Ibid, Vol. I, 8. 65 Ibid, Vol. I, 11. 66 The West Indies were more commonly associated with dangerous passions as it was believed that the English constitution simply was not suited to the c limate. The mention of the West Indies in fiction u sually foreshadowed the downfall of the character who is c onnected with it or intimated the types of vices a character might be involved with. Two of the books under consideration in this work mention the West Indies: in The Advantages of Education it is associated with financial ruin, while in A Simple Story it is associated with marital ruin. Kathleen Wilson exami nes the episodic and unstable nature of national identities in eighteenth-century Britain in her wo rk The Island Race: Englishness, Empire and Gender in the Eighteenth Century This work sheds some light on the often contradic tory and difficult to navigate relationships between Great Britain and its empire that contributed to stereotypes of the West Indies and other places within the empire.
Kell 51 see her as a substitute parent, but also presents t he return of Mrs. Williams as a positive event because of the new wealthy lifestyle she will lead. The obviously biased nature of Mme. Du Ponts interactions with Maria outside of t he more formal education suggests that the actual education Maria received is likewis e biased and perhaps detrimental. The danger that West is warning her readers against is the self-serving, materialist nature of boarding school educations. Mme. Du Pont is not con cerned with Marias moral education. Instead, she tries to enhance her own po sition by appealing to the rich parents of her pupils. Thus, she emotionally manipulates he r charges, leading them to depend on her as a surrogate parent in order to curry the fav or of their parents which thereby increases her own wealth and position. Such a form of education is dangerous because the morality of the students is completely disregar ded. Madame Du Ponts ideas regarding Marias future lif e are based entirely on speculation and stereotypes regarding the West Indi es and the Englishmen and women who travel there, not on concrete information. Yet she is still willing to treat Maria differently based on this speculation and raise Mar ias expectations of her future life. This changed behavior leads Maria to adopt some id eas of self-importance, which are exacerbated more fully when Maria is first introduc ed to her mother and Madame Du Pont offers what Mrs. Williams sees as disgusting panegyrics on the qualities of her daughter. 67 Mrs. Williams would have much rather heard an hone st, tempered account of Marias abilities and character, and recognizes Mme Du Ponts overwrought praise as a sign of trouble with Marias education. She is dete rmined throughout the book to discover and correct all of the faulty aspects of M arias character rather than pretend that her boarding school education was sufficient. 67 Ibid, Vol. I, 12, 18.
Kell 52 West is careful to maintain that Maria is at base a good girl who can overcome the unfortunate influences she received at boarding sch ool. Mrs. Williams, shortly after meeting her daughter, describes her as following: Her manner ... is frank and ingenuous; her look animated and intelligent; a noble structur e may be built upon so fair a foundation."68 The purpose of the book, then, is to show Mrs. Wil liams helping Maria to build that structure, dealing with any problems Mar ia brings from her unfortunate boarding school period as they come up. For example Mrs. Williams especially felt the need to temper the effects of Marias friendship wi th Charlotte Raby whom she had met while at school. Mrs. Williams had agreed to settle near the Rabys to oblige Maria and was unwilling to discourage Maria associating with Charlotte despite the fact that she often disapproved of Charlottes behavior. Instead, she made an effort to remove some erroneous ideas, which inexperience occasioned her daughter to entertain.69 Upon Charlottes engagement to a somewhat rakish we althy army officer, Maria is convinced that all of Charlottes troubles and o ccasionally inappropriate behavior will be done away with as she enjoys in the protection of the man she loved, all the peace and security incident to the matronly character.70 Mrs. Williams is reluctant to spoil Marias pleasure in her friends engagement, but sh e is also unwilling to allow her daughter so naively to continue to view the world i n imagining that Charlottes engagement was purely disinterested. Mrs. Williams is careful to address any objections that she anticipates Maria bringing up so that she can prove she is sympathetic to Marias wish to think as well of her friend as possible. Ne vertheless she lays out quite explicitly 68 Ibid. Vol. I, 22-3. 69 Ibid, Vol. I, 116. 70 Ibid.
Kell 53 that there is no foundation for love between Charlo tte and Major Pierpoint and explains the ways in which Charlottes behavior has proven t o be mercenary. Due to the calm and logical manner in which Mrs. Wi lliams presents her case, Maria is forced to admit that her mother is correct and that Charlotte has little hope of marital felicity in her future. Mrs. Williams furth er displays her ability as an educator by distracting her daughter from fixating too long on Charlottes unhappy future with a music lesson. This music lesson serves the dual pur pose of distraction and instruction on its own merits as the song Maria is instructed to s ing has its own lesson: O! gather in lifes early prime, The produce which despises time; Waste not in pleasures soothing bowers Youths irrecoverable hours; Those hours in follys book enrolld, Or stampd by wisdoms seal of gold. Oh! Seize the time, with happiest aim Awake exertions powerful flame; Now bend to reasons calm control Each rebel passion of the soul: And from th approving gods demand Immortal glorys starry band.71 This narrative provides instruction for both mother s and daughters first by showing mothers how to deal with daughters with whom they m ay have erred previously, and second by showing daughters the best way to respond to a mother's instruction, which is with careful attention and emulation. By the end of the novel, Maria is far from perfect, but her faults are small ones that will not greatly damage herself or those around her. Due to her mother's skillful handling, her virtues far outweigh her small faults. What is most curious about the vision of boarding s chool education that The Advantages of Education offers is that West took care not to insinuate tha t all boarding 71 Ibid, Vol. I, 121-2.
Kell 54 schools were necessarily poor educators. The fifth chapter of the first volume is entirely in the voice of Prudentia Homespun, the persona t hat West creates to narrate the novel. Prudentia fears that if these pages should ever fa ll into the hands of people, who are fond of drawing general conclusions, they may, from misapprehension, conceive, that I mean to fix an implied stigma on a boarding-school education.72 She roundly refutes this idea, claiming that she holds education in general in too high esteem to disparage any educational form. Instead, she would prefer to illu minate the ways that educational institutions such as boarding schools could be impr oved. Prudentia explicitly deplores that ornamental accomplishments and wealth are plac ed above moral and intellectual qualities in determining which girls are singled ou t as exemplars for their peers. The goal of boarding schools, Prudentia warns, is o ften bringing in the wealthiest students. In Prudentias model, this preference oft en means sacrificing moral and intellectual qualities for ornamental accomplishmen ts because ladies of the aristocracy do not need more practical skills to fulfill their dut ies. If governesses instead hold forth moral and intellectual qualities, as the object of their pupils ambitions, Prudentia believes that boarding schools could be just as eff ective a system of education as home education. Prudentias complaints about boarding sc hools echo complaints made by conduct book writers. The difference is that rather than deploring the system as a whole because of the current method of instruction, West s spokesperson maintains that if the curriculum of the schools is changed, the schools w ould not be reprehensible in and of themselves. She offers a far more optimistic concep tion of the possibilities of boarding school education than any of the conduct book write rs examined in this study. 72 Ibid, Vol. I, 29.
Kell 55 While The Advantages of Education shows how to counteract the mismanaging of education at some boarding schools, Susanna Rowson s Charlotte Temple (1794) displays more ruinous dangers associated with board ing schools without any attempt to soften the indictment of boarding school education. Unlike West, Susanna Rowson seems to lay all of the blame for the heroines ruin on t he pernicious influence of her boarding school education. In The Advantages of Education Maria was removed from her boarding school before any permanent damage could b e done. She left the boarding school with an overblown opinion of herself and no knowledge of how to conduct herself properly in society, but these weaknesses were easi ly remedied by gentle instruction from a beloved parent. In contrast, the eponymous heroin e of Rowsons Charlotte Temple receives the best moral education available from he r mother before attending a boarding school, and still she fails to avoid her own ruin, suggesting that education in the opposite direction (from mother to boarding school) is ruino us. Rowson makes a point of detailing the romance of Ch arlotte's parents to display the positive environment into which Charlotte was b orn and initially raised. She does this as an interruption into the narrative of Charlotte herself, signaling its importance for Charlottes forthcoming tale. The first chapter of the novel very briefly introduces Charlotte to the reader through the eyes of Lieuten ants Montraville and Belcour, officers in the army who are about to leave for America when Montravilles attention is caught by Charlotte, a young woman whom he had met once years before. Immediately after Montraville contrives a meeting with Charlotte, the re is a chapter break; the following four chapters are devoted to recounting the story o f how Charlottes parents met. Charlottes father, Mr. Temple, was the youngest so n of a nobleman who refused to live
Kell 56 his life in pursuit of wealth but rather sought Co ntent in the shape of a wife: if I find her in a cottage, [I] will embrace her with as much cordiality as I should if seated on a throne.73 He possessed an independent estate of five hundred pounds a year that allowed him to be as benevolent as he wished. This benevolence led him to the home of the Elridge s. Mr. Elridge had been experiencing financial difficulties for some time, difficulties that had been briefly alleviated by help from Mr. Lewis, a friend of his son George. However, Lewis began to show unprincipled interest in Miss Elridge, thus pr ompting Mr. Elridge to warn him away leading George eventually to challenge him to a due l. George dies in the duel, and Mrs. Elridge, who had been ill for some time, finally su ccumbs to her illness in part due to her despair. Throughout this affair as well as the madn ess that comes upon Mr. Elridge at the death of his son, his daughter, Lucy, stands by him supporting him in any way she knows how while they attempt to find a way to pay back Mr Elridges debts. When Mr. Temple learns of this story, he resolved t o help the family in any manner he could, eventually mortgaging part of his fortune to pay off Mr. Elridges debts. His father became furious and threatened to cut him off if he did not marry the woman that his father had already chosen, a Miss We atherby. Miss Weatherby is described as having a form lovely as nature could make it, but her mind uncultivated, her heart unfeeling, her passions impetuous, and he r brain almost turned with flattery, dissipation, and pleasure.74 As Mr. Temple has already decided he will marry no t for advancement but for true contentment, he refuses hi s fathers order and is therefore disinherited by his father. Mr. Temple and Lucy mar ry anyway and Rowson ends their 73 Charlotte Rowson, Charlotte Temple 1794, (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2011), 9 74 Ibid, 18
Kell 57 story by telling the reader that during many years of uninterrupted felicity, they cast not a wish beyond the little boundaries of their own te nement. Plenty, and her handmaid, Prudence, presided at their board, Hospitality stoo d at their gate, Peace smiled on each face, Content reigned in each heart, and Love and H ealth strewed roses on their pillows.75 Their home is described as idyllic and it is implie d that a child raised in such a home could only have received the best moral educat ion. When the reader is told that Charlotte was placed in a school, it was curiously "at the earnest entreaty of a particular friend,"76 rather than due to the inclination of either of he r parents. This justification for Charlotte's schooling places all of the blame for a ny subsequent immoral actions of Charlotte's at her feet, rather than to the neglige nce of her parents, who have been amply shown to give strong consideration to the morality of their actions and the happiness that moral actions bring themselves. Yet, allowing themselves to be persuaded to send th eir daughter to school suggests that the Temples might have been too compl acent about their education of their daughter and its long term effects on her behavior. The friend, presumably, is a friend of the Temples, not of Charlotte, which raises the que stion of what kind of friend of the Temples would suggest sending Charlotte away, espec ially to the particular school to which she is sent. No explanation is given for this decision, but it does suggest a certain naivet in the Temples that might have led to their daughters ruin despite their protestations of innocence later in the novel. Pres umably, the Temples provided a truly exemplary education for Charlotte, but considering the completely isolated situation in 75 Ibid, 20. 76 Ibid.
Kell 58 which she was raised, she would appear not to have had any social experience or training before being sent to boarding school, meaning that nearly every aspect of boarding school life would be new to her. To make matters worse, be cause she is at boarding school, she does not have the guidance of her parents through t hese new social situations, but rather the somewhat dubious guardianship of her French tea chers. The boarding school in Charlotte Temple, therefore, is the source of Charlotte's fall. While the head of the school, Madame Du Pont,77 was "a woman every way calculated to take the care of young ladies"78 she was not able to do everything on her own and she put her trust in the wrong hands, sugge sting that perhaps her judgment is not always as proper as one could wish. One of the teac hers at the school, Mademoiselle La Rue, was recommended to the school under somewhat f alse pretenses: she had eloped to England with a young English officer and lived with a number of men without ever marrying. However the friend who recommended her to Mme. Du Pont believed her to be sincerely repentant of her behavior and so did not mention these facts to Mme. Du Pont when giving her a reference. Mlle. La Rue was not a s repentant as one might have wished and "possessed too much of the spirit of intrigue t o remain long without adventures."79 Charlotte becomes a favorite of Mlle. La Rue and is taken to parties and clandestine meetings with young men, not quite fully aware of t he consequences of such actions, especially when her guide does not divulge the whol e truth of the situation. Charlotte is described as "pure and innocent,"80 unthinking of the dangers of pleasures until those 77 This Madame Du Pont is entirely unconnected to the Madame Du Pont in Wests The Advantages of Education The similarity of name and position are likely li nked to fears regarding the effects of the French on female education mentioned in the previous chapt er. 78 Rowson, 20. 79 Ibid, 21. 80 Ibid.
Kell 59 dangers are already upon her. This is attributed to her youth, rather than to her secluded upbringing, but a large part of Charlotte's innocen ce, and the innocence of most young women, is ignorance. Female ignorance, according to Michle Cohen, was a cultivated quality in eighteenth-century Britain. Cohen examines female c urriculum and determines that the move toward a broader, more modern curriculum for y oung women in the eighteenth century was not a move towards equality as some sch olars have claimed but rather a means of marginalizing female intelligence. In the eighteenth-century context, a classical, specialized knowledge is most worthwhile. Though in theory boys and girls could learn the same thing, it was expected that girls would re ceive a far less vigorous and in depth education and it was possible for them to learn a w ider variety of subjects as they were expected to learn accomplishments as well as academ ic subjects. As such, womens knowledge was generally seen as suspect. Cohen clai ms that by virtue of being modern, the girls' curriculum lacked both authority and anc ient methods, and had to be constructed and justified by each individual or ind ividual school.81 This means that despite the seemingly enhanced opportunities that y oung women received for education, their intelligence and knowledge was still suspect. Women were still expected to be unable to understand both intellectual and moral id eas as well as men were and were therefore expected to be more susceptible to making poor decisions that would lead to their ruin. While the pupils moral education is obviously of p rimary concern to the authors, neither West nor Rowson specifically states the nat ure of the religious/moral education 81 Michle Cohen, "A Little Learning: The Curriculu m and the Construction of Gender Difference in the Long Eighteenth Century, British Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies Vol. 29 (2006), 327.
Kell 60 that the pupils receive. By contrast, in Elizabeth Inchbalds A Simple Story (1791) the distinction between a Catholic and a Protestant edu cation is significant and carefully spelled out. Following the death of her mother, Mis s Milner is placed in a Protestant boarding school. Though her father, her only living parent, is Catholic, her late mother was Protestant and so following the English convent ion that girls are raised in their mothers religion and boys in that of their father, Mr. Milner allowed his daughter to be raised in the religion of her mother. Her education at her boarding school, however, is described in the most unflattering of terms: it was a school "from whence she was sent with merely such sentiments of religion, as young l adies of fashion mostly imbibe. Her little heart employed in all the endless pursuits o f personal accomplishments, had left her mind without one ornament, except those which natur e gave, and even they were not wholly preserved from the ravages made by its rival Art. 82 Miss Milner was taught in school to value the superficial things in life and unlike Maria, she did not have the benefit of a concerned mother to correct her faulty underst anding. Although of course it was never explicitly stated t hat a Catholic education would have been better for Miss Milner because it would h ave been impossible for Inchbald to publish her book in Protestant England with such a message, the nature of the Protestant education she receives as well as her fathers deat hbed decision to name a Catholic priest as her guardian strongly imply that had Miss Milner been educated as a Catholic all her life, many of her later faults would never have bee n allowed to develop. Mr. Milner hopes that the appointed guardian, a Catholic pries t by the name of Dorriforth, "will protect without controlling, instruct without tyran nizing, comfort without flattering, and perhaps in time make good by choice rather than by constraint, the dear object of his 82 Elizabeth Inchbald, A Simple Story, 1791, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 4-5
Kell 61 dying friend's sole care."83 In many ways, this wish is too little too late. Ha d Miss Milner been raised this way from the beginning, perhaps sh e would have turned out far better, less superficial and prone to caprice. However, due to the strongly anti-Catholic sentiments of eighteenth-century England, it would have been impossible for Inchbald, who was herself a Catholic, to have explicitly made such an argument, especially in a novel directed at young women of England in general as an education tool.84 Perhaps unsurprisingly, Dorriforth is unable to pro vide the proper care for Miss Milner. Not only is he a man and therefore unable t o provide the uniquely female guidance that all young women supposedly need, but the nature of the regard that Miss Milner develops for Dorriforth means that she does not seem him strictly as a fatherfigure with the right and responsibility to guide a nd punish her. She recognizes his authority and while he is simply her guardian obeys his commands no matter how unreasonable they seem. When Dorriforth is released from his vows, however, and the idea of an engagement between the two is broached, Miss Milner begins to exert her power over Dorriforth by disobeying him to show tha t he will forgive his beloved what he would never permit in his ward. This behavior la rgely results from the fact that for most of her life Miss Milner has been able to follo w her own inclination in all things. Occasionally this inclination leads to virtuous and selfless behavior but more often this 83 Ibid, 5 84 Anti-Catholicism ran deep in English culture in th e eighteenth century. It was a common trope in fict ion to present Catholics as an Other to be reviled. Ant i-Catholicism is most common in gothic fiction as a means of alienating the content of a gothic story b ut it is prevalent in other fiction as well. Most a ntiCatholic sentiment was linked in some way to the Fr ench. Linda Coley in Britons: Forging a Nation argues that the connection between Catholicism and the Fre nch and the antagonism that the British had for bot h was a means of uniting a newly formed Britain again st a common enemy. Colin Hayden explores eighteenth-century anti-Catholicism in depth in his study Anti-Catholicism in Eighteenth-Century England: A Political and Social Study
Kell 62 leads to her enjoying herself in any manner she ple ases. A few months under the care of Mr. Dorriforth is not enough to undo eighteen years of parental negligence. Dorriforth and Miss Milners daughter, Lady Matilda Elmwood, receives a very different education from her mother. Following Lady Elmwoods fall in the absence of her husband, she and Matilda are sent away to live in solitude in the country. In the ten years between Lady Elmwoods banishment and her dea th, Matilda received instruction from Mr. Sandford and Miss Woodley, who had in thei r compassion followed Lady Elmwood into exile to aid her and her child. The ex act nature of Matildas education is never specified. The only description we are given of Matildas nature is that she had an excellent understanding, a sedateness above her yea rs and was taught by her mother that respect and admiration of her fathers virtue s which they justly merited.85 The most important aspect of her education, therefore, is th at she has learned to be in awe of her father and willing to submit to his wishes in all a spects of her life. This submission makes her later reconciliation with her father plausible as she has none of Lady Elmwoods thoughtless independence that led to her downfall. Similar to Matilda, the eponymous heroine of France Burneys Evelina (1778) was raised by a friend of her mother after her fath er refused to acknowledge Lady Belmont as his legal wife, and therefore her daught er as his legal heir. Lady Belmont was the only child of an unfortunate union between an E nglish gentleman, Mr. Evelyn, and a French waiting-girl. Upon Mr. Evelyn's death, his w ife married again, this time to a Frenchman by the name of Duval. Miss Evelyn's educa tion had been left to Reverend Villars, Mr. Evelyn's old friend and mentor, but he r fortune had been left in the hands of her mother. At the age of eighteen, Miss Evelyn had been induced to marry Lord 85 Ibid, 216.
Kell 63 Belmont in an attempt to avoid the marriage her mot her and stepfather wished to force upon her. However, when Lord Belmont learned that h is wife's mother refused to give him his wife's fortune, he burnt their marriage cer tificate and denied that they had ever been married. Soon after Lord Belmont returned to F rance without his wife, she discovered she was pregnant. She died in childbirth leaving her daughter, Evelina, to the man who had cared for her in her youth, Mr. Villars He raised her in seclusion as Miss Anville, educating her in much the same manner as h e had her mother and grandfather, hoping that the grandchild's lot in life would be f ar more fortunate than her forbearers. Evelina was raised without any guiding maternal fig ure, only the fatherly figure that had already failed with both her mother and gr andfather. Due to his previous failures in ensuring the propriety and happiness of his char ges, Mr. Villars is hyper vigilant in whom he allows Evelina to associate with and the si tuations in which she is allowed to partake. The history of Evelinas mother and grandf ather is related in the second letter of this epistolary novel after the mother of one of Ev elinas friends asks Mr. Villars if Evelina might visit and meet her grandmother as jus tification for why he is reluctant to allow Evelina away from his protection. Yet as the rest of the novel shows, the overprotectiveness of Mr. Villars hurt Evelina more because she is utterly unprepared for virtually every social situation she is put in. She has a very strong basic sense of propriety as well as an overwhelmingly innocent and virtuous nature that saves her from ever meeting a catastrophe that she cannot recover from but she is nonetheless put in any number of embarrassing situations that she could ha ve avoided had her guardian not kept her quite so insulated.
Kell 64 The level of socialization that the heroine receive s prior to a more formal comingout seems to be influential in deciding how the her oine will behave in society as well as the level of blame or censure that should be placed on her when she does something wrong. When Wests Maria moves from the boarding sc hool to her mother's home, she has already been used to being in company constantl y. The company was not necessarily good for her, but she knew the basic rules of socia l interaction and due to the gossiping of the rest of the school had come to expect a certain level of social engagement in her life after school. She was disappointed in this expectat ion and her mother expected her to act differently is social experiences than she had at s chool, but she was still somewhat prepared for social life after coming out. Similarl y, Inchbalds Miss Milner was fully versed in social expectations when her father died and she was left under the care of Mr. Dorriforth. She did not feel the need to submit to his advice on social matters at all unless he issued a direct order. Rowsons Charlotte, howev er, did not seem to have this preparation when she began socializing at school. F urthermore, her "coming out" was premature and under the guidance of a woman who her self had illicit experience and lacked English moral education. Rather than Lucy Te mple guiding her daughter through the appropriate social world, the wild, scandalous Frenchwoman Mlle. La Rue brought her to the homes of "gay young men of fashion,"86 introducing her to manners of comportment that were far from acceptable behavior. Because Mlle. La Rue is her teacher, Charlotte has no reason not to trust her u ntil she is in the midst of the festivities and finds herself disgusted by the "levity of the g entlemen and the freedom of their conversation."87 Charlotte has the natural instincts to know when s he is in an 86 Rowson, 21. 87 Ibid.
Kell 65 inappropriate situation, instincts likely cultivate d by her parents, but she does not have the wherewithal to avoid getting into inappropriate situations in the first place. She needs someone of more experience and with greater proprie ty than Mlle. La Rue to guide her. The Suitor-Educator Once a young woman has finally joined society at la rge, her education is still not finished. She has been educated, either at home or at school, in the theory of social interaction and proper behavior in the public spher e and eventually as a wife and mother. However, she needs to put this education to practic al use, which invariably leads to further education in the finer points of propriety in specific social situations that a sheltered education failed to bring. Lynne Vallone, in her study of eighteenth-century adolescent fiction for girls, claims that Whether the fictional girl has had proper nurturing or suffered from its absence, she is re-e ducated in the precarious transitional void by her worthy suitor and can become, in her tu rn, the good mother capable of properly educating her own children.88 Parents are rarely involved with the heroines education in the public sphere. Mrs. Williams in The Advantages of Education is the only exception to this in the books under consideration in this study as Mrs. Williams must undo the pernicious effects of Marias boarding sch ool education. Even here, however, Mrs. Williams must eventually step aside and allow the suitor to guide her daughter. The suitor is not always as positive an influence as Va llone suggests. In some cases, most notably in this study that of Charlotte Temple and Montraville, the suitor helps lead the heroine to her fall. In others, the effect of the s uitor is ambivalent, as with Mr. Dorriforth 88 Lynne Vallone, The Crisis of Education: Eighteent h-Century Adolescent Fiction for Girls, Childrens Literature Association Quarterly Vol. 14, No. 2 (1989), 66.
Kell 66 and Miss Milners relationship where both seem chan ged as lovers. No matter the nature of the effect that the suitor has on the heroine, h e is always integral to the completion of the heroines education before she attains motherho od. By displaying different ways in which to choose and interact with a suitor, these novels are not only showing readers how they should act in social situations but also how they should not. They provide something of a fantas y for the reader, allowing them to vicariously experience mistakes and dangerous situa tions that they would never otherwise have been given access to. In some ways, this fanta sy world created in novels can be more educational in that it allows young women to s ee the results of possible mistakes in a way that conduct books cannot manage. Conduct lit erature provides a framework for young women to act within but provides relatively l ittle in possible consequences. Implicit consequences, such as a ruined reputation and being shunned from society, are generally implied, but immediate consequences of mi stakes simply are not considered. In novels, these immediate consequences are often the focus of the novel. Each novel shows the process behind a heroine making her decision, t he actual actions the heroine takes, as well as everything the heroine must deal with becau se of her decisions. The narrative that best fits the arc that Vallone d escribes in her essay is Burneys Evelina When Evelina finally enters the public sphere, sh e does so completely separated from her guardian Mr. Villars. He continues to corr espond with her throughout her time away from home, but he is removed from the action, unable to provide anything but the most general of advice. Someone else must guide Eve lina through the social sphere. When Lady Howard is trying to convince Mr. Villars to allow Evelina to visit, she argues When young people are too rigidly sequestered from [the world], their lively and
Kell 67 romantic imaginations paint it to them as a paradis e of which they have been beguiled; but when they are shown it properly, and in due tim e, they see it such as it really is, equally shared by pain and pleasure, hope and disap pointment.89 At this point, Lady Howard, with the help of her granddaughter Maria Mi rvan, is assumed to be the one who shows Evelina the world properly. Lady Howard would provide the matronly advice and Miss Mirvan would provide a source of mutual emulat ion as nothing is to be feared from envy90 between the two girls. However, neither Lady Howar d nor Miss Mirvan are present for much of Evelinas travels. Instead, Eve lina is continually thrown into the company of Lord Orville, who provides the most guid ance for Evelina. Throughout Evelinas adventures away from home, her guardian is able to provide little aid. He writes to her eleven times d uring the months that Evelina is gone, largely offering only general advice to remember th e virtues of her education and resist the appeal of the decadence of town. When he does o ffer more specific advice, it is nearly always related to Evelinas grandmother, Madame Duv al, or to her father, Sir John Belmont. Even on such topics, his advice is simply to show them all due respect as near relations. Mr. Villars wants Evelina to stay seclud ed in the country with him as long as possible. He describes London and society in the mo st unflattering terms and finds something to judge in every young man that Evelina comes into contact with. Yet it is impossible for Evelina to stay secluded and unmarri ed under Mr. Villarss protection forever. At some point she must be recognized as th e daughter of Lord Belmont and married to an appropriate suitor. Mr. Villars, who is constantly worried that Evelina might end up as her mother and grandfather did, is unable to guide Evelina through 89 Frances Burney, Evelina 1778, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 17 90 Ibid, 21.
Kell 68 society in a manner that is actually productive. Lo rd Orville, however, is able to provide Evelina with the right guidance. It is this ability to guide that proves Orville is the right suitor for Evelina. From the very beginning of their acquaintance, Evel ina displayed to Lord Orville her lack of familiarity with the prevailing social customs of the day. Upon their first meeting, Orville finds Evelina to be exceedingly ru stic and almost rude. From the moment she first encounters him at a public assembl y, Evelina makes mistake after mistake. First, she dances with him despite the fac t that she has turned down someone elses invitation to dance, a major faux pas in dan cing etiquette. While dancing with him, she speaks hardly a word to him and plainly display s her terror at dancing and conversing with a stranger. Before the dance is properly over, she walks away without telling him where she has gone, leaving him to attempt to find her. Once he has found her, he attempts to engage her in conversation, a skill tha t she is far too nervous to partake in, especially when she realizes that he has tried to i ntroduce a number of different topics in the hope that one will finally draw her out. When t heir conversation is interrupted by the man who had initially asked Evelina to dance, Eveli na laughs at his affront over her slight rather inappropriately and it is intimated that Eve lina accepted Lord Orville from a preference for his Lordships superior attractions .91 Unsurprisingly, Lord Orville is unimpressed by Evelinas constant blunders. Evelina overhears later that night that he thought her rather ill-bred, though his companion s uggests that she is instead perhaps simply a sheltered country parsons daughter. Early on in their acquaintance, the specter of Lord Orvilles disapproval is enough to shame Evelina into more closely watching her beh avior. Though Evelina declares she 91 Ibid, 33.
Kell 69 shall never attend another assembly after her first disastrous experience, she attends a ridotto, a large public assembly, less than a week later. While there, Evelina blunders catastrophically yet again. Now that she knows that to decline the invitation of one man to dance means she must sit out the entire evening, she avoids dancing with a stranger by claiming she is already engaged. The stranger, late r revealed to be Sir Clement Willoughby, refuses to take no for an answer but is eventually led to believe that Lord Orville is her original partner, at which point he is willing to let Evelina dance with Orville rather than himself. After this second resc ue by Orville from an unwanted dance at an assembly, Evelina is so mortified in Orville s company that she can neither speak before him to apologize or enjoy the entertainment they were supposed to be sharing. As a result Evelina is more circumspect in her behavio r at assemblies. Orvilles reserved response to Evelinas behavior has shown her that h er behavior is not simply somewhat awkward and rustic but inappropriate. The teasing a nd incessant attention of Sir Clement made Evelina uncomfortable but did not fully impres s upon Evelina the seriousness of the situation and her actions because Sir Clements manner was too light and rakish. Despite Evelinas new awareness of how to behave at assemblies, she still faces a number of social situations with different rules th at Orville must continue to guide her through. Through most of her adventures, Orvilles disapproval stands in for the disapproval of society at large. Conversely, if Lor d Orville can forgive an action, so can the rest of the world. Evelinas heart is always in the right place. She always wishes to do as much good for those around her as possible and t o behave in as proprietous a manner as possible. However, women are often placed in imp ossible situations where they can neither completely fulfill the dictates of propriet y nor satisfy their own sense of morality.
Kell 70 For Evelina, Lord Orville is the barometer by which she measures how far past traditional conceptions of propriety to fulfill her own sense o f morality. Throughout the novel Evelina travels to various public places, such as L ondon and Bristol, with friends and relatives, each of which provides various social ch allenges that Evelina must overcome. Lord Orville coincidentally appears in each of thes e places and provides Evelina with the instruction and guidance that she needs. After having known Lord Orville for several months, Evelina learns from a friend something Orville had said of her: "It is very true," said Lord Orville, "that I did n ot, at our first acquaintance, do justice to the merits of Miss Anville; but I kne w not then how new she was to the world; at present, however, I am convinc ed, that whatever might appear strange in her behaviour, was simply t he effect of inexperience, timidity, and a retired education; fo r I find her informed, sensible, and intelligent. She is not, indeed, like most modern young ladies, to be known in half an hour: her modest wor th, and fearful excellence, require both time and encouragement to show themselves. She does not, beautiful as she is, seize the soul by su rprise, but, with more dangerous fascination, she steals it almost imperce ptibly."92 Lord Orville is able to recognize the inherently vi rtuous nature of Evelina and the struggles that she undergoes to satisfy both virtue and propriety. Through the process of guiding her through these struggles, Lord Orville f alls in love with Evelina. While Lord Orville is an exemplar of the positive s uitor-educator role, Lt. Montraville of Rowsons Charlotte Temple best exemplifies the negative suitor-educator who brings the heroine to ruin rather than to the p roper role of wife and mother. Lord Orvilles education is never mentioned in Evelina ; however, in Charlotte Temple it is the faulty education and guidance that Montraville rece ives that causes him to lead Charlotte astray. Lt. Montraville is the youngest son of a ge ntleman of fortune who, due to having a 92 Ibid, 228.
Kell 71 numerous family, was forced to bring his sons up in various professions. When Montraville decides to go into the army, his father buys him a commission and warns him that due to the slim salary that the army provides, he will need to be careful about taking a wife. His father says, A soldier has no business to think of a wife till his rank is such as to place him above the fear of bringing into the world a train of helpless innocents, heirs only to penury and affliction.93 He goes on to suggest that if a soldier were to marry a young woman whose fortune is sufficient to preserve you in that state in independence I would teach you to prize, then ther e would be no barrier to marriage. His final admonition is simply to take care when decidi ng when and whom to marry so that financial misery is not their lot in life. Montraville, when later remembering this conversati on, takes this to mean that he cannot possibly marry Charlotte as Mlle. La Rue as told him that she cannot have more than a thousand pounds to her name and there was a chance that her father would not give Charlotte any money should she marry someone about to go off to war. His fathers advice was certainly sound. It would be the height of folly to marry when unable to adequately provide for your wife and children. As m entioned earlier, it was common practice in eighteenth-century England for men to m arry much later than women after they had established themselves financially so that they would be able to support a wife and children. In fact, it is likely that the dispar ate average age of marriage between men and women contributed to the lover as father-figure trope that is so popular in this time. However, Montravilles response to this advice ca rrying on affair with a young woman that he never plans to marry and leading her to exp ect more from him displays the faulty moral understanding that he has as well as h is inability to consider the 93 Rowson, 31.
Kell 72 consequences of his actions. The narrator tells us that his impetuousness is exacerbated by his poor choice of friend: with a mind ever open to conviction, had he been so fortunate as to possess a friend who would have pointed out the cru elty of endeavouring to gain the heart of an innocent artless girl, when he knew it was utterly impossible for him to marry her, and when the grati fication of his passion would be unavoidable infamy and misery to her, and cause of neverceasing remorse to himself: had these dreadful cons equences been placed before him in a proper light, the humanity of his n ature would have urged him to give up the pursuit: but Belcour was not his friend; he rather encouraged the growing passion of Montraville.94 Montraville was not properly taught how to control himself. His father gave him good advice related to the need for restraint and care b ut Montraville only partially applied it because the full lesson was never taught. Furthermo re, his friend plays on his weaknesses, encouraging Montravilles vices so that he can satisfy his own in a dalliance with Mlle. La Rue. Due to his faulty education and lack of proper guid ance, Montraville cannot provide the education that Charlotte needs. Therefo re, despite this realization that he cannot marry Charlotte, Montraville still pursues h er acquaintance without thinking of what he hopes to accomplish and the effects his pur suit would have on Charlotte. Night after night Charlotte continues to meet Montraville secretly despite the fact that she knew that what she was doing was wrong. Even Montraville knew that what he was doing was wrong. However, both of them had unscrupulous frien ds who continued to encourage them to follow a dangerous path. It is the unknowin g intervention of Lucy Temple that makes Charlotte fully aware of the mistakes she is making. Charlotte receives a letter from her mother asking her to come home for her bir thday. Charlotte is overcome by the 94 Ibid, 29-30.
Kell 73 trusting, complimentary language that Lucy uses and resolves that she will not leave with Montraville for America and instead will stay happi ly at home with her parents. Even away from home, the only useful education and guidance that Charlotte receives is from her mother. Yet because that guida nce is not provided in person but rather through a letter, Charlotte is easily persua ded to come to the rendezvous point to tell Montraville in person that she does not wish t o run away with him, only to be kidnapped by Montraville because he cannot take her no for an answer. Montraville was given an opportunity by Charlotte to recognize his faults and think about the consequences of his actions on her but he refuses t o take it and forcibly takes her and ruins her. Furthermore, despite the proof Montravil le has amply given that he is not to be trusted to act in Charlottes best interest, she st ill trusts that he will post her letter to her parents to tell them what happened to her. He conti nues to put on a sympathetic face and promises to do as she wishes even as he ignores her desires in favor of his own. Because of her innocent nature, Charlotte is unable to see through him and never learns the best way to conduct herself. Once in America, Montraville sets up a house for Ch arlotte and initially visits her often. However he gradually spends less and less ti me with Charlotte in favor of Julia Franklin, a rich heiress in New York, eventually le aving Charlotte alone and pregnant. Charlotte never learns her lesson in regards to Mon traville. Until the very end she believes in his innate goodness and the possibility that he will return to save her. Even when he accuses her of infidelity to him, she belie ves that he will eventually see that her love for him is steadfast. To Charlottes credit, s he is correct in believing that Montraville would not wish to see her or her child in want, for despite the fact that he believes she has
Kell 74 been perfidious, he recognizes that he was the caus e of her initial ruin and therefore he was responsible for her well-being. His faith in Be lcour, however, means that he trusts his friend to perform tasks in his name to take car e of Charlotte, tasks that Belcour has no intention of ever doing. This means that though Mon traville meant to do the right thing by Charlotte, he ultimately could not because he ne ver learned the objective thinking that would make him an exemplary husband. Without a prop er guide in her suitor, Charlotte had no hope of becoming a respectable wife. Charlot tes only redemption comes in the form of her daughter Lucy, named after her grandmot her. Lucy is raised by her grandparents and as she grew up and improved, [Mrs Temple] began to almost fancy she again possessed her Charlotte.95 The Temples have a second chance to raise their daughter properly in their granddaughter, preferabl y so that she is better able to the advice of her guardians and avoid ruin.96 Ultimately, in Charlotte Temple it is not so much the education that Charlotte receives as the education she does not receive that provides an example for the reader. The reader can easily recognize that Charlotte is m aking poor choices in trusting her heart and well-being to an impulsive and thoughtless man like Montraville. While Charlotte can never seem to learn from situations that repeat again and again, the reader, often with the help of the narrator, can learn those lessons. Shelly Jarenski argues that seduction novels like Charlotte Temple provide readers with a choice of what to do with ones educ ation. She disagrees with scholars 95 Ibid, 89. 96 Susanna Rowson actually wrote a sequel titled Charlottes Daughter; or, The Three Orphans that is commonly referred to as Lucy Temple Despite the hopeful ending of Charlotte Temple the sequel is just as sensational and Lucy is just as unsuccessful in ter ms of romance as her mother was. Desiree Henderson claims in Illegitimate Children and Bastard Sequel s: The Case of Susanna Rowsons Lucy Temple that Lucy subverts the didactic message of Charlotte Temple regarding a daughter's allegiance to her parents and instead valorizes independence and even isolati on as the ideal state for young women. However, on its own Charlotte Temple does suggest that redemption and reconciliation ar e possible for Lucy Temple.
Kell 75 who claim that seduction novels simply allow reader s to vicariously experience the autonomy they were denied in the real world as wel l as those who believe that novelists simply highlight the fact that women had no choice at all by offering unsatisfactory alternatives.97 Instead she believes that the negative side of fe male education in these novels is presented as a foil for the positive, red emptive qualities granted to education within them.98 Jarenski provides the example of the two different possibilities presented in Mme. Du Pont and Mlle. La Rue; if Charlotte had turned to Mme. Du Pont for help rather than simply relying on Mlle. La Rue she woul d not have fallen into ruin. Essentially, this argument is correct; Charlotte di d have options that she did not even consider exploring, both in Mme. Du Pont and i n her parents. However Jarenski gives Madame Du Pont too much credit, accepting unc ritically the idea that Madame Du Pont was a woman every way calculated to take the c are of young ladies.99 Mme. Du Ponts decision to hire Mlle. La Rue and her inabil ity to monitor all of her pupils is a large part of the problem of Charlottes education. It is Mme. Du Ponts fault that Charlotte was introduced to Mlle. La Rue in the fir st place. Charlotte certainly had the option to confide in her headmistress, but it is al so would have been reasonable for Charlotte to assume that Mme. Du Pont would agree w ith whatever advice Mlle. La Rue might give considering she put her trust in Mlle. L a Rue to teach her pupils, and therefore not confide in her. Without a clear guiding hand fr om anyone but Mlle. La Rue because Mme. Du Pont was busy with the rest of her pupils a nd her parents were elsewhere, it is 97 Shelly Jarenski, The Voice of the Preceptress: Fe male Education in and as the Seduction Novel, The Journal of the Midwest Modern Language Association Vol. 37, No. 1 (Spring 2004), 64. 98 Ibid. 99 Rowson, 20.
Kell 76 not surprising that Charlotte would accept Mlle. La Rues guidance and Montravilles attentions as she did. Miss Milner of Inchbalds A Simple Story suffers in much the same way as Charlotte due to an inappropriate suitor-educator. When Mr. Milner had died he had trusted his friend, the priest Mr. Dorriforth, to c are for his daughter and supply the education needed to make up for her deficiencies. A s mentioned earlier, he hopes that Dorriforth "will protect without controlling, instr uct without tyrannizing, comfort without flattering, and perhaps in time make good by choice rather than by constraint, the dear object of his dying friend's sole care."100 However the impertinence of Miss Milner coupled with her inappropriate attraction to Dorrif orth make education difficult for Dorriforth to manage. He provides instruction for h er prior to the revelation of her feelings, but because of her attraction, her reacti on to his instruction is mixed. She schools her behavior to match his wishes before he has been released from his clerical vows and therefore is unavailable as a suitor becau se she wishes to please him. She even removes herself from his presence completely becaus e her attraction to a priest is highly inappropriate. However, once Mr. Dorriforth becomes Lord Elmwood, and thus a romantic relationship between him and Miss Milner i s possible, Miss Milner is no longer willing demurely to submit to Elmwood. She constant ly tests her boundaries with him, pushing him to accept something close to equality i n their relationship or even to accept her dominance. Yet Lord Elmwood is a stubborn and a uthoritarian figure who is not willing to concede power to Miss Milner. Arguably, Lord Elmwood provides just as damaging an education to Miss Milner as Montravil le provided to Charlotte. Both men 100 Inchbald, 5.
Kell 77 contributed to the fall and death of their love int erests and ultimately aided little in the redemption of their daughters. From the beginning Miss Milners superficial accomp lishments were Mr. Dorriforths primary cause of concern. The first de scription of Miss Milner that he receives is that shes a young, idle, indiscreet, giddy girl, with half a dozen lovers in her suite; some coxcombs, some men of gallantry, some s ingle, and some married.101 He worries that she will not be able to be improved fr om the decidedly negative description he is given of her. However, during the course of t he same conversation which merited the above description of Miss Milner, another woman the wife of a merchant who had suffered severe losses, refutes such unmitigated ce nsure of Miss Milner. She claims that Miss Milner procured us time in order to discharge the debt [to Mr. Milner]; and when she found that tie insufficient, and her father no longer to be dissuaded from his intention, she secretly sold some of her most valuable ornamen ts to satisfy his demand and screen as from its consequences.102 Dorriforth takes heart that there is a basis for g ood behavior in Miss Milner. However from this promising foundat ion he assumes that Miss Milner will be fairly easily swayed to more virtuous behav ior in all aspects of her life. He discounted the profound effect that years of selfis h and thoughtless behavior has on Miss Milners disposition. As the story progresses and the relationship betwee n Miss Milner and Mr. Dorriforth deepens and becomes more complicated, Do rriforths improper and initially unacknowledged attraction to Miss Milner leads to r esponses and commands that are not suited to a sober guardian educating his young ward Instead they are more suited to that 101 Ibid, 9-10. 102 Ibid, 12.
Kell 78 of a jealous lover; they are irrational and occasio nally violent. For example, nearly all of Dorriforths dealings with another of Miss Milners suitors, Lord Frederick Lawny, are characterized by irrational decisions on both sides When Lord Frederick first began to visit Miss Milner, Dorriforth was wary of him becau se he was a young nobleman, immersed in all the vices of the town, without one moral excellence.103 Dorriforth orders Miss Milner to refuse to continue to allow Lord Fre dericks visits. In response, Lord Frederick accuses Dorriforth of being in love with Miss Milner and therefore acting out of jealousy. Yet at this point, so soon after Miss Milner has come to stay with him, Dorriforth simply wished to see Miss Milner married to see his charge in the protection of another, rather than of himself.104 Later, however, when Lord Frederick attempts to secure Miss Milners permission to see her, Dorrifo rth with an instantaneous impulse105 strikes Lord Frederick and thus precipitates a duel between the two men. Despite Lord Fredericks unseemly attempts to detain Miss Milner Dorriforths response is nonetheless shockingly violent and uncalled for. With her guardian acting in such a manner, it is un surprising that Miss Milner grows little throughout the novel. In this particul ar case, Miss Milner must be the one to find a rational and safe solution to the problem at hand by claiming a love she does not feel for Lord Frederick so as to save his life. Thi s is not to say that Miss Milner never makes improper decisions in the heat of the moment, for she most certainly does. However with the implacable and heated example that Mr. Dorriforth often provides it is unsurprising that Miss Milner never truly reforms f rom the thoughtless, selfish, stubborn girl she was at the beginning of the novel. Michael Boardman, in his attempt to move 103 Ibid, 19. 104 Ibid. 105 Ibid, 61.
Kell 79 away from ideological readings of A Simple Story argues that in the intensely implicatory fictional game she invites us to play w ith these two possible people, Inchbald wants to try something Fielding and Burney did not: she explores the fictional potentialities of depicting two conflicted, attract ive personalities who can't surmount their difficulties.106 As such, he views Miss Milner and Dorriforth as so fundamentally different that they can never properly communicate with each other and any relationship they partake in must necessarily be doomed to failu re. In other words, Dorriforth is so completely incapable of educating Miss Milner and g uiding her towards the proper role of wife and mother, that their precipitous and unli kely marriage at the end of the first half of the novel has no possibility of succeeding. Boardman uses the manner in which Miss Milner and E lmwood are wed as the crowning example of this. Elmwood and Miss Milner h ad prepared to be separated after Miss Milner had disobeyed him and attended a masque rade in revealing clothing. Both were resigned to the idea of never seeing one anoth er again when Mr. Sandford, Elmwoods priest mentor, who had highly disapproved of Miss Milner throughout the novel, suddenly steps in and marries them on the sp ot. The couple could not come together on their own and instead needed an outside influence to facilitate their reconciliation. That this reconciliation is brought about by the man who had been trying throughout the novel to separate the two because he felt that Miss Milner could not possibly be a proper Lady Elmwood further highlight s the hopeless quality of their union. When the third volume opens seventeen years later, it is to the recitation of the downfall of the Elmwoods marriage and the consequences that their daughter, Lady Matilda, must 106 Michael Boardman, Inchbalds A Simple Story : An Anti-Ideological Reading, Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation Vol. 37, No. 3 (Aug. 1996), 275.
Kell 80 endure. Lady Elmwood, impulsive and selfish as ever grows bored after the long absence of her husband and embarks on a dalliance with a ne w lover: Lady Elmwood, at first only unhappy, became at last provoked; and giving way to that irritable disposition which she had so seldom governed, resolved, in spite of his injunctions, to divert th e melancholy hours caused by his absence, by mixing in the gay circles of Lon don. To violent anger, succeeded a degree of indifference still mor e fatalLady Elmwood's heart was not formed for such a statethe re, where all the tumultuous passions strove by turns, one among them soon found the means to occupy all vacanciesthat one was love. T he dear object of her fondest, her truest affections, was away; and t hose affections, painted the time so irksome that was past; so wearisome, th at, which was still to come; she flew from the present tedious solitude, t o the dangerous society of one, whose every care to charm her, could not re pay her for a moment's loss of him, whose absence he supplied.107 Despite four years of happy marriage, Elmwood has s till not been able to control his wife and instill the proper patience and virtue in her t hat would have allowed her to bear his absence with more forbearance. Such a heart, where all the tumultuous passions strove by turns should have been reined in years earlier, before she had even married. Lady Matilda Elmwood learns from the example of her mothers fall and is very willing to submit to her fathers authority on all matters. The focus of Matildas story is heavily on her reconciliation with her father and s o little focus is placed on her suitor. Furthermore, because Matildas suitor, Henry Rushbr ook, is Lord Elmwoods heir, he must be careful about how he approaches Matilda so as not to provoke his uncles ire. As such, Matilda receives little instruction from Rush brook. After Rushbrook realizes that Matilda is staying at her fathers country estate h e continually attempts to put himself in her way as he is instantly caught by her melancholy story as well as her beauty and demure air. He claims to love her despite seeing he r but once and without having properly conversed. After returning to town he beco mes obsessed with the idea of her but 107 Inchbald, 196-7.
Kell 81 without any hope of something coming of this obsess ion given the degree of anger that Lord Elmwood continued to hold for his wife and by extension his daughter. Due to the concerned interference of Mr. Sandford and Miss Woo dley, Rushbrook and Matilda meet only twice and in fact for the entire third volume Matilda holds Rushbrook in contempt for his position as her fathers heir. It is not un til after Matilda is restored to her fathers esteem following her kidnapping that Matilda looks upon Rushbrook with any kind of favor. She accepts his marriage proposal not becaus e she loves him but so that he might not be banished from her fathers presence in the s ame way that she had once been. Matilda does not seem to grow at all throughout her story. Instead her father matures and recognizes that the implacability of his resolve ag ainst his daughter was unnecessary. Matildas story instead appears to function as a fu rther explanation of the follies of her mother. Like Matilda, Maria Williams got relatively little instruction from her suitor. Through the vast majority of The Advantages of Education Mrs. Williams is the primary educator and guide for Maria. Instead Marias suito rs serve as mediums through which Marias social education can be continued. Mrs. Wil liams is extremely unwilling to outright tell Maria what she should and should not do in deciding how to interact with her two suitors, Sir Henry Neville/Mr. Stanley and Edmu nd Herbert. Maria must rather put her mothers oblique lessons to practical use and d ecide on her own which suitor is best suited to her future happiness and act on that deci sion. When Maria first meets Mr. Stanley on the road, she is most troubled by the difference between her reaction to him and her moth ers reaction. Maria had not seen anything particularly objectionable about Mr. Stanl ey and had enjoyed their conversation.
Kell 82 Mrs. Williams, on the other hand, was instantly ske ptical of the young man as her natural frankness had been considerably chilled by the unpleasant lessons which experience teaches.108 When Maria observes her mothers cold reception of Mr. Stanley she wonders if there was something that she had mis sed about him and if she should have moderated her behavior more. As such, the extraord inary incident of being escorted an hundred yards, by an unknown beau, was sufficient t o annihilate the cheerfulness, and disturb the attention of a lovely girl of nineteen, during a whole evening.109 Observing this behavior, Mrs. Williams becomes concerned, a c oncern that is later justified given that Mr. Stanleys real name is Sir Henry Neville a nd that he is in Everdon to escape the consequences of his romantic indiscretions. Even af ter Mrs. Williams learns Sir Henrys real name (though not his true reasons for hiding h is identity), she still gives Maria free reign to make her own decisions. She feels that bec ause Maria will be the one to bear the consequences of any decision made regarding her sui tor, then Maria should be the one to make those decisions on her own. Therefore, when Ma ria accepts Sir Henrys proposal, Mrs. Williams gives her consent. Despite their informal engagement, Sir Henry and Ma ria do not in fact marry; instead Maria marries the son her of mothers frien d, Edmund Herbert. Initially, Maria is unaccountably antagonistic to Mr. Herbert. After he aring so many stories of him from his mother Mrs. Herbert she had unreasonably high expec tations for him and when she compares him to Sir Henry, she finds him less pleas ing and engaging. To make matters worse, Sir Henry defames Mr. Herbert so that Maria will not trust Mr. Herbert and so that he can remain safe in her regard. Yet it is Mr. Her bert who tells Maria that Sir Henry has 108 West, Vol. I, 127. 109 Ibid, Vol. I, 128.
Kell 83 no uncle controlling his fortune, as he had claimed to put off announcing their engagement more publicly. Such a charge was extreme ly shocking to Maria as no virtue, however splendid, could in her idea preponderate ag ainst so black a charge [as a deliberate lie].110 Despite her distrust of Mr. Herbert, she is forced to acknowledge that it would make little sense for him to fabricate the lie that he did but still asks her friend Charlotte to confirm the truth for her. When Charlo tte confirms that Sir Henry had no immediate family living, Maria is forced to accept that Mr. Herbert is more virtuous than Sir Henry and she attempts to determine what she is going to do about her now perilous situation with Sir Henry. Mr. Herbert, through his more principled behavior, is able to guide Maria toward the truth. Despite guiding Maria to information she needed to make a properly informed decision regarding her marriage, Mr. Herbert still does not provide an actual lesson in how to use that information and th e consequences of ignoring it. Instead, it is her mother that is the foundation and the sup port for making her decisions. The Intrusive Narrator As a childs initial education cannot be determined by herself and must instead be guided by someone else, the sections of each novel that chronicle the early education of each heroine is directed more towards parents, espe cially mothers, than towards young women, who really could not receive much benefit fr om being told how their childhood education should have happened. Jane West and Susan na Rowson seem particularly aware of this fact. These two authors make more fre quent use of an intrusive narrator than either Frances Burney or Elizabeth Inchbald, o ften interjecting advice aimed directly at a very specific audience. These narrative intrus ions make the reader more aware of the 110 Ibid, Vol. II, 38.
Kell 84 fact that the authors know that they are working wi thin well-established narrative clichs but the authors still believe they have something o riginal and educational to provide to their readers. These intrusions also take on a more explicitly conduct book feel, by telling rather than showing the reader the best way to reac t or behave in certain situations, including in the process of reading. At the same ti me, these intrusions also reveal a level of awareness from the authors of what is most appea ling about novels. They tailor their characters and descriptions to provide the most ple asing reading experience within the confines of the goals that they appear to be attemp ting to attain. Jane West is particularly aware of this fact in her first novel The Advantages of Education West, in her persona of Prudentia Homespun, imagi nes a very specific audience and what pieces of advice or particular mo ments within the novel would be most helpful to that audience at any given time. Th e narrator frequently steps in to explain to the reader why she should be paying atte ntion to a scene or to provide related advice that the characters themselves wouldn't have been able to provide. At various points, she recognizes that she is speaking to mult iple audiences. The full title itself suggests a dual audience: The Advantages of Education, or, The History of Mar ia Williams, A Tale for Misses and their Mammas The first chapter of the book is devoted to a conversation between Prudentia Homespun and he r friend about how to make the story as interesting as possible for young women wi thout sacrificing her didactic purposes. Prudentia is determined to combat the unr ealistic expectations that novels provide regarding such issues as marriage and the w orth of individuals based on their looks.
Kell 85 Yet despite this wish she changes the name of her h eroine from Polly to Maria and agrees to "allow her beauty and elegance, lest I should not have one reader in teens."111 She is willing to allow a certain latitude if it w ill get the attention of young girls and hopefully keep that attention on the proper sub jects. Elizabeth Inchbald makes a similar narrative decision. When first introducing Mr. Dorriforth to Miss Milner, the narrator interjects, But that the reader may be in terested in what Dorriforth says and does, it is necessary to give some description of h is person and manners.112 In both these cases, the narrator recognizes that most readers ha ve likely come to expect certain physical characteristics of the characters that col or their reading experience. It was common that the outward appearance of a character b e indicative of their inner qualities and a physical description often told the reader al l they needed to know about the character. Neither Inchbald nor West seem to actual ly adhere to this notion but they recognize that their readers likely do. As such, th ey are willing to accommodate their readers preconceptions to convey their message. The assumption that both West and Rowson have that their audience will not be interested in moral lessons without any kind of inc entive is an interesting one. It points to a possible reason why novels were used as education al tools when other more serious recourses such as conduct books were available. Whi le Prudentia Homespun and Elizabeth Inchbald are willing to tailor the physic al qualities and name of their heroines to appeal to young women, Rowson anticipates her re aders expected reactions to her story and explains why her story has proceeded the way it has.113 Rowsons most 111 Ibid, 5. 112 Inchbald, 8. 113 I am looking at the intrusive narrators as the aut hors response to who they seem to think their audi ence is. Whether those assumptions about the readers are accurate is somewhat difficult to determine. There
Kell 86 pertinent interruption happens when Charlotte is in formed that her seducer, Montraville, has married someone else, seemingly without any con sideration for Charlottes situation, pregnant and alone in a strange country. Charlotte is understandably distressed by this abandonment (forwarded by Montravilles rakish frie nd who represents Charlottes behavior falsely to encourage Montraville to abando n her). She grows increasingly ill, with no one who is willing to aid her. The next cha pter opens with an interjection that Rowson imagines the reader would make: Bless my h eart, cries my young, volatile reader, I shall never have patience to get through these volumes, there are so many ahs! and ohs! so much fainting, tears, and distress, I a m sick to death of the subject.114 The narrator immediately retorts wondering whether the reader has felt anything close to the level of distress that Charlotte is feeling, and ar gues that if she had not been so innocent, then the reader would be more compassionate. The narrator is displaying her awareness of how you ng women might typically read a sentimental novel, especially at the end of the century when the conventions of sentimentality are becoming something of a joke. Th rough much of the eighteenth century, and especially from the 1740s to the 1770s sentimental work reveals a belief in the appealing and aesthetic quality of virtue, disp layed in a naughty world through a vague and potent distress.115 However, the sentimental novel relied heavily on provoking tears in such a way that belies any attem pt at analysis and instead the reader is have been a number of studies that look at readersh ip and attempt to determine who is buying books, bu t for this time period there is often a fair bit of g uesswork and large swaths of readers may be overloo ked for any number of reasons. William St. Clair takes a la rgely numerical approach to determining English readership in The Reading Nation in the Romantic Period Jon Klancher, on the other hand, actually focuses on the efforts of many authors to make an a udience in his book The Making of English Reading Audiences, 1790-1832 He argues that authors believed that if they coul d create a reading audience then they could recreate the social order. 114 Rowson, 74. 115 Janet Todd, Sensibility: An Introduction (London: Methuem & Co., 1986), 2-3
Kell 87 forced to simply respond to emotion conveyed rather than identify with a character or situation. With the French Revolution and British a ttempts to distance themselves as much as possible from the emotionally volatile situ ation in France, sentimentality came under attack from all sides. It was generally viewe d as self-indulgent emotion whose concerns do not actually lie with issues of importa nce. Furthermore, sentimental fiction was increasingly being seen as immoral or amoral. H annah More, a Bluestocking and conduct book writer, believed that fictional heroi nes who indulged sexually usually died indeed; none the less they remained heroines and th eir surrender to irrational and uncontrolled passion often appeared fascinating and noble.116 The narrator is undoubtedly aware of this growing perception of sen timental fiction as overly indulgent and not actually useful as an educational model yet she still wishes to educate her readers by appealing to their emotions, even by showing the fall of her heroine. She might also be leading the reader to certain rea ctions. No reader would likely wish to be called volatile and so Rowsons interj ection could be just as much about promoting the readers satisfaction with their read ing abilities. If the reader did not react in the way that Rowson predicts than they have alre ady proven their superior abilities. Just as with the choices that the heroine makes, Ro wson is providing the reader with alternatives that the reader knows she should not m ake and is implicitly praising the reader for not taking those alternatives. From the initial education that the heroine receive s to her experiences as she first enters the public world, novels provide the reader with a more detailed exploration and explanation of how they should behave. Unlike condu ct books which deal largely with abstract discussions of what is proper behavior, no vels allow the reader to see the 116 Ibid, 137.
Kell 88 possible consequences of their actions. While those consequences are not always entirely realistic, as it is hard to believe that if a young woman was found arm-in-arm with a prostitute her love interest would simply separate them and lead her away,117 they nonetheless provide more possibilities than conduct books do. The intrusive narrators highlight this aspect of novels, reminding the read er that though she may be enjoying herself while reading a novel, there is a moral pur pose to her pastime. 117 Burney, Vol. II, Letter XIX, 218-225.
Kell 89 Conclusion The benefit of studying conduct books and novels to gether is that we are able to gain a fuller understanding of some of the multitud e of sources in young womens lives that help to shape who they are supposed to be. Nei ther genre is either fuller historical or fully literary; each genre has elements of bot h that when examined together allow for a more nuanced vision of what young women were expected to know and how they were expected to behave. Furthermore, looking at th e two genres complicates the messages that each genre presents, especially when the two genres reference each other. These books did not exist in a vacuum; they were re sponding to other publications of their time. Nearly every conduct book mentions nove ls and each author has something to say about the merits or demerits of young women rea ding didactic literature. The almost overwhelming disapproval of the novel forces us to question how useful novels are as an educational device. At the same time, mentions of c onduct literature in novels sometimes provide a slightly better understanding of how cond uct books were accepted and received. None of the novels under consideration here mention any specific conduct books, however, Jane Austen in Pride and Prejudice (1811) specifically mentions Fordyces Sermons multiple times. Scholars have argued that the mann er in which Fordyce is treated in Pride and Prejudice suggests Austens disdain for the work and a decli ne in the reception of conduct literature in Britain. However Austen began writing Pride and Prejudice in the 1790s when conduct literature was at its pe ak in popularity. The book was not published until 1811, but the groundwork ha d long been laid and it would be surprising to find that a hugely popular work such as Sermons for Young Women had not
Kell 90 been included in the novel from the beginning and w as instead added in later in the editing process. Furthermore, we know that Austen l iked at least some conduct literature. She read Gisbornes Enquiry at the suggestion of her sister and enjoyed the bo ok more than she originally believed she would.118 While this does not mean Austen would not be critical of other conduct literature or particular uses of it, it does suggests that she is not universally criticizing conduct literature in her t reatment of Fordyces Sermons Given Fordyces popularity as a preacher as well as a con duct book writer, the manner in which Fordyce is used as a method of critique suggests th at Austen is not necessarily criticizing Fordyce, but rather the manner in which he is invok ed. The criticism in Pride and Prejudice is against Mr. Collins and Mary as readers, not against Fordyce as a writer, I argue. Mr. Colli ns is presented as a thoroughly uninteresting reader as he read with very monotono us solemnity119 that suggests he is reading in a manner that he mistakenly believes wil l impress upon his listeners the importance of the work. However, he has been shown to be an obsequious creature who seems more willing to be impressed by the price of his patronesss chimneypiece than by the actual morality of her actions. As such, his en dorsement of Sermons is suspect because he has been shown to be morally oblivious a nd lacking in critical judgment. Even though Mr. Collinss self-righteous speech aft er Lydia and Kitty have grown bored with his reading and interrupt him is in many respe cts correct in its sentiments, the reader is led to see it as just another ridiculously pompo us and empty pronunciation by Mr. Collins. He says, I have often observed how little young ladies are interested by books of a serious stamp, though written solely for their benefit. It amazes me, I confess; for 118 R. W. Chapman, ed., Jane Austens Letters to her sister Cassandra and o thers (London: Oxford University Press, 1964),169. 119 Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, 1811, (Ontario: Broadview Press, 2002), 95.
Kell 91 certainly, the can be nothing so advantageous to th em as instruction.120 His observation is apt. Lydia and Kitty are ignoring a subject that had they paid attention to likely would have saved the family a great deal of grief. But th ey cannot be interested in his monotonous solemnity and so receive none of the b enefit which Sermons has the possibility of providing them. Austens criticism i s based on the manner in which Mr. Collins is presenting himself and Fordyces Sermons not on the conduct book itself. Likewise Marys pedantic and obviously vain espousa l of conduct book ideology and dry moral texts is a criticism of Mary as an in efficient reader. Marys pursuit of accomplishments, such as playing the pianoforte and singing, at which she is obviously naturally deficient and which no amount of practici ng seems to able completely to overcome, is simply proof that though Mary may read moral texts and can regurgitate them to her family at (what she sees as) opportune moments, she is not actually internalizing anything that she is reading. She is not critically engaging with the texts, revealed in the fact that all of the conduct books, including Fordyces, reject the acquisition of accomplishments for the sake of vani ty. This is clearly what Mary is doing in her pursuit of the pianoforte. Understanding For dyces Sermons and the place of conduct literature in the time period then allows f or a better understanding of what Austen is doing with her inclusion of it in her nov el. This understanding can be extended to encompass how novels and conduct books are read together and separately as educational works. Many historical studies of conduct literature were written from the late 1970s through the early 1990s, just as feminist historian s were attempting to fill the blanks in womens history and determine how womens lives wer e shaped. Therefore much of the 120 Ibid.
Kell 92 historiography regarding conduct literature is insu fficiently nuanced; often the advice in conduct literature is taken at face value. However, conduct literature provides an idealized version of womens lives and feminine beh avior. Studying conduct literature on its own provides the historian with a sense of what society in the eighteenth century wanted women to be, but it gives no indication of how wom en actually behaved. The marked upswing in the number of conduct books publi shed in the 1790s suggests that the fears and anxieties that motivated the creation of conduct literature in general was increased by something. Linda Colley suggests that fears regarding the French Revolution were channeled into anxieties regarding womens behavior and resulted in an increase of the publication of conduct literature.121 Fears of the influence of the French were common th roughout the eighteenth century and the French Revolution made those fears seem justified, but were those fears the only reason for the upsurge of conduct literatu re publication? What other motives for the creation of conduct literature, such as fears r egarding social mobility due to industrialization perhaps, could have been exacerba ted in the last decade of the eighteenth century? A more in depth study of how co nduct literature was accepted by its intended readers as well as by those responsible fo r their education would allow for a better understanding of how conduct literature was operating in the eighteenth century. By using methods such as those used in works like A manda Vickerys The Gentlemans Daughter which examined the letters and private papers of gentlewomen in the Georgian era to determine how women talked about their own l ives and activities, a better understanding of how effective conduct literature w as, and perhaps how effective the author intended the book to be, might be acquired. 121 Linda Colley, Britons: Forging the Nation (New Haven, Yale University Press, 2008), 237-282.
Kell 93 A similar attempt might be made with novels. Many n ovelists made claims in their books that they were providing a means of edu cating the reader. As examined here, there were certainly the means present to provide a kind of social education for the reader. But it is uncertain what exactly the eighte enth-century reader took from the novels. We are not even certain who exactly was actually reading these novels. Due to this uncertainty, it would be difficult to figure o ut readers responses, yet by determining those responses we would have a better understandin g of how novels actually worked in the lives of young women and whether or not they we re able to be of service to some who are so unfortunate as to have neither friends t o advise, or understanding to direct them, through the various and unexpected evils that attend a young and unprotected woman in her first entrance into life, as Rowson w ishes in the Preface to Charlotte Temple 122 It is clear that many novelists wanted to be able t o affect the conduct of their readers in some manner and it is equally clear that many of their contemporaries had doubts as to the novels ability to do so. Few of t he conduct books examined here have anything positive to say about novels. Gisborne and Wollstonecraft are particularly condemnatory of the effects novel reading have on y oung women. Wollstonecraft claims that novels are one great cause of the affectation of young women A false taste is acquired, and sensible books appear dull and insipi d after those superficial performances, which obtain their full end if they can keep the mi nd in a continual ferment.123 Gisborne argues that novels are more habit forming than any other kind of book, and that they have been known to betray young women into a sudde n attachment to persons unworthy 122 Rowson, 5. 123 Wollstonecraft, 20.
Kell 94 of their affection, and thus to hurry them into mar riages terminating in unhappiness."124 Even seemingly wholesome novels are dangerous becau se they can lead the reader to less acceptable novels. France Burney in the preface to Evelina also acknowledges that perhaps were it possible to effect the total extirpation of novels, our young ladies in general, and boarding-school damsels in particular, might profit from their annihilation.125 However, Burney rationalizes that since the distemper they have spread seems incurable, since their contagion bids defiance to the medicine of ad vice or reprehension, and since they are found to baffle all the mental art of physic, s ave what is prescribed by the slow regimen of Time, and bitter diet of Experience, sur ely all attempts to contribute to the number of those which may be read, if not with adva ntage, at least without injury, ought rather to be encouraged than contemned.126 Even novelists then were at least pretending to ascribe to a view of novels in general as bad fo r the reader in an attempt to claim for their own novels a higher standard or as at least not inflicting injury upon the reader. If we were to obtain a better understanding of how you ng women actually responded to the novels that they read, the fears that both conduct book authors and novelists present would be better understood, as would the place that conduct books and novels held in the educational life of young women. 124 Gisborne, 217. 125 Burney, 8. 126 Ibid.
Kell 95 Appendix: Novel Family Trees
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