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accidental entrance of an amiable woman; while her good sense and
obliging deportment charms them into at least a temporary conviction,
that there is nothing so delightful as female conversation, in its
best form! Were such conviction frequently repeated, what might we not
expect from it at last?
"Were virtue," said an ancient philosopher, "to appear amongst men in a
visible shape, what vehement desires would she enkindle!" Virtue,
exhibited without affectation, by a lovely young person, of improved
understanding and gentle manners, may be said to appear with the most
alluring aspect, surrounded by the _Graces_.
It would be an easy matter to point out instances of the most evident
reformation, wrought on particular men, by their having happily
conceived a passion for virtuous women.
To form the manners of men, various causes contribute; but nothing,
perhaps, so much as the turn of the women with whom they converse. Those
who are most conversant with women of virtue and understanding, will be
always found the most amiable characters, other circumstances being
supposed alike. Such society, beyond every thing else, rubs off the
_corners_ that gives many of our sex an ungracious roughness. It
produces a polish more perfect, and more pleasing than that which is
received from a general commerce with the world. This last is often
specious, but commonly superficial. The other is the result of gentler
feelings, and more humanity. The heart itself is moulded. Habits of
undissembled courtesy are formed. A certain flowing urbanity is
acquired. Violent passions, rash oaths, coarse jests, indelicate
language of every kind, are precluded and disrelished.
Female society gives men a taste for cleanliness and elegance of person.
Our ancestors, who kept but little company with their women, were not
only slovenly in their dress, but had their countenances disfigured with
long beards. By female influence, however, beards were, in process of
time, mutilated down to mustaches. As the gentlemen found that the
ladies had no great relish for mustaches, which were the relics of a
beard, they cut and curled them into various fashions, to render them
more agreeable. At last, however, finding such labor vain, they gave
them up altogether. But as those of the three learned professions were
supposed to be endowed with, or at least to stand in need of, more
wisdom than other people, and as the longest beard had always been
deemed to sprout from the wisest chin, to supply this mark of
distinction, which they had lost, they contrived to smother their heads
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