Education of the Heart
For Jane Austen, the best education a father can give to his child is to befriend her.
Education of the Heart

Written by Jane Austen (1775-1817)

Abridged from Mansfield Park by Jane Austen (1775-1817).

Sir Thomas Bertram has lost both his daughters to unhappy marriages, and now has the unwelcome leisure to reflect on where he went wrong. He gave them a progressive education, he laid down the law; but what he should have done was to get to know them, and to win their trust.

TOO late he became aware how unfavourable to the character of any young people must be the totally opposite treatment which Maria and Julia had been always experiencing at home, where the excessive indulgence and flattery of their aunt had been continually contrasted with his own severity.

He feared that principle, active principle, had been wanting; that they had never been properly taught to govern their inclinations and tempers by that sense of duty which can alone suffice. They had been instructed theoretically in their religion, but never required to bring it into daily practice. He had meant them to be good, but his cares had been directed to the understanding and manners, not the disposition; and of the necessity of self-denial and humility, he feared they had never heard from any lips that could profit them.

Wretchedly did he feel, that with all the cost and care of an anxious and expensive education, he had brought up his daughters without their understanding their first duties, or his being acquainted with their character and temper.

Abridged from Mansfield Park by Jane Austen (1775-1817).

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Picture: ‘The Geography Lesson’ (1812) by Louis-Léopold Boilly (1761-1845), shows M. Gaudry and his daughter at work together. In 1794, Boilly narrowly escaped the Terror in France, having been charged by the Committee of Public Safety with painting erotic scenes, but ‘The Triumph of Marat’, lionising revolutionary Jean-Paul Marat, was discovered in his studio just in time to save his life.
From Kimbell Art Museum (Fort Worth, TX), via Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public domain.

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