"I loved reading, and had a great desire of attaining knowledge; but whenever I asked questions of any kind whatsoever, I was always told, "such things were not proper for girls of my age to know."... For "Miss must not enquire too far into things, it would turn her brain; she had better mind her needlework, and such things as were useful for women; reading and poring on books would never get me a husband."
"But this fully answered John's purpose toward Betty, for as she did not understand, she highly admired him; and he concluded by again repeating that learning was a fine thing for a man but 'twas both useless and blameworthy for a woman either to write or read."
"Miss C_____ is ... remarkably neat in her person and is uncommonly diligent in every part of useful economy.... She hath indeed under her father's tuition acquired ... a large share of real learning of almost all the living and dead languages. Nor was the leisure which she found for such acquirements produced by neglecting anything necessary or useful for the family, but by the most assiduous industry."
"Little miss is taught by her mamma that she must never speak before she is spoken to. On this she sits bridling up her head, looking from one to the other, in hopes of being called to and addressed by the name of pretty miss.... But if this should not happen and no one should take any notice of her, she is ready to cry at the neglect. But should there be another miss in the room caressed and taken notice of whilst she is thus overlooked, it will be impossible for her to contain her tears, and blubbering is the word."
"Miss C_____'s father," says Betty, "had much better have bred his daughter a housewife, and then, mayhap, she might have got hera husband, which with all her fine learning she has not yet been able to do. And no wonder, for what man would be plagued with a slattern?"
"The female part of the Cry (who had many of them often experienced a joyful self- approbation on being told by their admirers thatall their perfection lay in folly and that to prove their wisdom they must shun, as poison, every offered instruction for fear of becoming disagreeable to their lovers) now felt rolling in their bosoms the highest anger and disdain. Not against their adorers for so preposterous a method of flattery, much less against themselves for receiving and being pleased with such absurd adulation: but all their indignation was pointed against Portia for daring to bring into open light the true meaning of such paradoxical stuff."
"I know not whether it would be too bold an assertion to say that candor makes capacity.... But in order to try the truth of any observation relating to the mind, the easiest method is to illustrate it by outward objects. If, for instance, a man was to sweat and labor all the days of his life to fill a chest which was already full, the absurdity of his vain endeavor would be glaring. In the same manner, when the human mind is filled and stuffed with notions brought thither by fallacious inclinations, there is no room for truth to enter: candor being banished, passions alone bear the sway."
"The hardiest skeptic who has seen a horse broken, a pointer trained, or has visited a menagerie or the exhibition of the Industrious Fleas, will not deny the validity of education. "A boy," says Plato, "is the most vicious of all beasts;" and in the same spirit the old English poet Gascoigne says, "A boy is better unborn than untaught."
"We shall one day learn to supersede politics by education. What we call our root-and-branch reforms of slavery, war, gambling, intemperance, is only medicating the symptoms. We must begin higher up, namely, in Education."
"The great object of Education should be commensurate with the object of life. It should be a moral one; to teach self-trust: to inspire the youthful man with an interest in himself; with a curiosity touching his own nature; to acquaint him with the resources of his mind, and to teach him that there is all his strength, and to inflame him with a piety towards the Grand Mind in which he lives. Thus would education conspire with the Divine Providence."
"We teach boys to be such men as we are. We do not teach them to aspire to be all they can. We do not give them a training as if webelieved in their noble nature. We scarce educate their bodies. We do not train the eye and the hand. We exercise their understandings to the apprehension and comparison of some facts, to a skill in numbers, in words; we aim to make accountants, attorneys, engineers; but not to make able, earnest, great- hearted men."
"Neither years nor books have yet availed to extirpate a prejudice then rooted in me, that a scholar is the favorite of Heaven andearth, the excellency of his country, the happiest of men. His duties lead him directly into the holy ground where other men's aspirations only point. His successes are occasions of the purest joy to all men. Eyes is he to the blind; feet is he to the lame. His failures, if he is worthy, are inlets to higher advantages."
"The Roman rule was, to teach a boy nothing that he could not learn standing. The old English rule was, "All summer in the field, and all winter in the study." And it seems as if a man should learn to plant, or to fish, or to hunt, that he might secure his subsistence at all events, and not be painful to his friends and fellow men."
"But in a hundred high schools and colleges, this warfare against common-sense still goes on. Four, or six, or ten years, the pupilis parsing Greek and Latin, and as soon as he leaves the University, as it is ludicrously called, he shuts those books for the last time. Some thousands of young men are graduated at our colleges in this country every year, and the persons who, at forty years, still read Greek, can all be counted on your hand. I never met with ten. Four or five persons I have seen who read Plato. But is not this absurd, that the whole liberal talent of this country should be directed in its best years on studies which lead to nothing?"
"We are students of words: we are shut up in schools, and colleges, and recitation-rooms, for ten or fifteen years, and come out atlast with a bag of wind, a memory of words, and do not know a thing."