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CHAP. V.
TASTE, TACT, AND OBSERVATION.


In the cursory survey we have now taken of what may properly be called the intellectual groundwork of the female character, our attention has been directed not only to those scholastic attainments which are generally comprehended in a good education, but to that general knowledge, which can only be acquired by after-study, by observation, by reading, and by association with good society.

All these, however, are but the materials of character, materials altogether useless, and sometimes worse than useless, without the operation of a master-power to select, improve, and turn them to the best account. With men, this power is most frequently self-interest—with women it is that bias of feeling towards what they are most inclined to love, which is generally recognized under the name of taste; and both these principles begin to exercise their influence long before the mind has attained any high degree of intellectual cultivation, and long before we are aware of our own motives. I have called this principle in woman, taste, because so far as it is biassed by the affections, taste involves a moral; and it is a peculiar feature in the female character, that few things are esteemed which do not recommend themselves in some way or other to the affections. Thus, women are often said to be deficient in judgment, simply from this reason, that judgment is the faculty by which we are enabled to decide what is intrinsically best, while taste only influences us so far as to choose what is most agreeable to our own feelings.