An Address to Young Women on the Preservation of a Virtuous Mind, and Virtuous Conduct.
This is a religious pamphlet addressed to young women on the importance of preserving ‘personal chastity’ (3). It is an example of advice and conduct literature published as a cheap pamphlet rather than as a book. It appears to be a rare holding, and forms part of the Francis J. O’Kelley collection at the NLI. The author, an English Protestant clergyman, addresses his work not to those who have ‘erred from the path of purity’ but to ‘the uncontaminated’. He recounts the ‘exceeding importance of women to the world’ in influencing Christian behaviour and effecting the salvation of others in their various roles as servants, wives and mistresses of families, mothers, daughters, and neighbours. While men act as missionaries extending the faith, women undertake the equally important work of maintaining the Gospel in families. His central point is that this important work ‘in the gracious recovery of the world’ cannot be undertaken ‘if you sacrifice chastity’: ‘in forfeiting your virtuous character you put it out of your power to be of any essential service to your generation’ (14). While the preservation of chastity is essential ‘to the beneficial agency and usefulness of women’ it is ‘not the only excellence required’, and he proceeds to offer a portrait ‘of an excellent daughter, such as a parent may delight in having given to the world, and a husband rejoice to possess’ (17). This is essentially an outline of the perfect wife, taken from the Book of Proverbs based on the ideal presented by Solomon. This ideal woman is characterised by, amongst other things, unsullied purity, industry, circumspection with words, and charitableness. The foundation of this character, the author notes, is in the fear of the Lord. Subservience to the needs of others is a hallmark of the perfect wife: ‘Observe her anxiety to meet her husband’s condition, to secure his esteem and affection, and to approve herself as a help meet for him; and mark her extraordinary diligence - her vigilant superintendence and management of her family - the kindness of her spirit and conversation - and her ready charity in ministering to the wants of others’ (17). Phillipps concludes with eight points of advice. These include a warning to ‘Fly the society of vicious women’ (20) and never to allow anyone ‘to take the least liberty with your person’ (21). Men who have taken another woman’s virtue, who have ‘contracted profligate habits’ (21) or who are not true Christians are to be avoided. Remaining single is no disgrace and he argues that women should only marry if they have found a worthy suitor. Finally, the ideal life ‘is to be lived in the power of the Holy Spirit’ (24).
Rev. E.T.M. Phillipps, M.A. Rector of Hathern, Leicestershire, and Chancellor of the Diocese of Gloucester.
Place of Publication:
Seeley, Burnside, & Seeley, Fleet Street. Sold also by Lee, Loughborough; Combe & Crossley, Leicester; Bemrose, Derby; and Dearden, Nottingham
Date of Publication:
24 p. 17 cm.
Conduct Literature, Advice Literature, Gender, Girls, Moral Education, Religion, Christianity
General Catalogue (Children’s Books) - NLI