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Title: Letters to a Daughter and A Little Sermon to School Girls
Author: Starrett, Helen Ekin
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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LETTERS TO A DAUGHTER
AND
A LITTLE SERMON TO SCHOOL-GIRLS.


BY
HELEN EKIN STARRETT,

Author of "The Future of Educated Women," etc.

CHICAGO:
JANSEN, McCLURG, & COMPANY.
1886.



COPYRIGHT,
BY JANSEN, MCCLURG, & CO.
A.D. 1885.



CONTENTS.

LETTER I.     BEHAVIOR AND MANNERS            5
LETTER II.    SELF-CONTROL AND SELF-CULTURE  16
LETTER III.   AIMS IN LIFE                   27
LETTER IV.    PERSONAL HABITS                35
LETTER V.     SOCIETY--CONVERSATION          46
LETTER VI.    ASSOCIATES AND FRIENDS         59
LETTER VII.   TACT--UNOBTRUSIVENESS          71
LETTER VIII.  WHO ARE THE CULTIVATED?        81
LETTER IX.    RELIGIOUS CULTURE AND DUTY     88

A LITTLE SERMON TO SCHOOL-GIRLS             101



LETTERS TO A DAUGHTER.

LETTER I.

BEHAVIOR AND MANNERS.


_My Dear Daughter:_--One of the greatest blessings I could wish for you,
as you pass out from the guardianship of home into life with its duties
and trials, is that you should possess the power of winning love and
friends. With this power, the poor girl is rich; without it, the richest
girl is poor. In the main, this power of winning friends and love
depends upon two things: behavior and manners. Between these there is an
important distinction, but one is the outgrowth of the other. The root
of good manners is good behavior. Consider with me for a little what
each implies.

Behavior is a revealer of real character. It has especially to do with
the more serious duties and relations of life. Its greatest importance
is in the home. How well do I remember a visit, made in my youth, to a
school friend whom I had learned to admire greatly for her superior
intellect, quick wit, power of acquiring knowledge, and ability to
recite well in class. In her home she was rude and disrespectful and
even disobedient to her parents; cross and sarcastic with her brothers
and sisters; selfish and indolent in all matters pertaining to the work
of the household. What a disenchantment was my experience! That great
and good man, who has written so many noble precepts about the conduct
of life, Mr. Emerson, in speaking of and praising a noble citizen, says:
"Never was such force, good meaning, good sense, good action, combined
with such lovely domestic behavior, such modesty, and persistent
preference for others." This was what was lacking in my school friend:
lovely domestic behavior. Nothing could compensate for this deficiency.

What was needed in this young girl in order that she might have
exhibited in her daily life a "lovely domestic behavior"? An almost
total reconstruction of character; such a cultivation of the moral sense
as would have made it a matter of conscience with her to "honor her
father and mother," to be respectful to them and desirous of pleasing
and serving them. Selfishness was the main cause of her ill-treatment of
her brothers and sisters, as it was of her indolence, and her
indifference to the performance of her share of the household duties.
Her behavior in the home was such that she repelled, rather than
attracted, affection. Her own personal preference, mood, feeling, were
constantly allowed to control her conduct; and the deep underlying
deficiency in her character was lack of a tender conscience and of a
sense of duty.

Lovely domestic behavior is the natural outgrowth and expression of a
beautiful, harmonious, and lovely character In order to behave
beautifully, we must cultivate assiduously the graces of the spirit. We
must persistently strive against selfishness, ill-temper irritability,
indolence. It is impossible for the selfish or ill-tempered girl to win
love and friends. Generosity, kindness, self-denial, industry--these are
the traits which inspire love and win friends. These are the graces that
will make the humblest home beautiful and happy, and without which the
costliest mansion is a mere empty shell.

One more point in regard to behavior I wish to impress upon your mind as
of very great importance, although it relates less to the home and more
to general society. I mean that of modest behavior as distinguished
from forwardness and boldness. One of the greatest charms of young
girlhood is modesty; one of the greatest blemishes in the character of
any young person, especially of any young girl or woman, is forwardness,
boldness, pertness. The young girl who acts in such a manner as to
attract attention in public; who speaks loudly, and jokes and laughs and
tells stories in order to be heard by others than her immediate
companions; who dresses conspicuously; who enjoys being the object of
remark; who expresses opinions on all subjects with forward
self-confidence, is rightly regarded by all thoughtful and cultivated
people as one of the most disagreeable and obnoxious characters to be
met with in society. Modesty is one of the loveliest of graces, and
should be constantly cultivated.

And now you will see what I mean by saying that the root of good
manners is good behavior. In other words, good manners have their time
and living root in moral qualities and the Christian graces. There is a
certain surface display of manners which may be acquired and which may
deceive and pass with those who do not know us intimately; but there is
all the difference between such superficial good manners and those which
are real, that there is between the cut bouquet of flowers which
delights for an hour or two and then withers away, and the living,
growing plant which constantly delights us with fresh beauty and bloom.

What are the characteristics of the agreeable and beautiful manners that
are the ornament and charm of the well-behaved girl? First we should
place gentleness, quietness, and serenity or self-possession. It has
been well said by an observing social critic, that the person who has
no manners at all has good manners. What is meant by this, and there is
a deep truth in it, is that gentle and quiet manners do not attract
attention at all. Their greatest charm is their unobtrusiveness, just as
the charm and distinguishing mark of a well-dressed person is that the
dress is not striking or obtrusive. You can infer from this how
inconsistent with good manners is heat and exaggeration in conversation.
It is a just complaint among refined and cultivated people that many,
even of the well-educated young women of the present day, talk too
loudly and vehemently; are given to exaggeration of statement and slang
expressions. The greatest blemish of the conversation and manners of the
young people of to-day is obtrusiveness and exaggeration. By
obtrusiveness I mean a style of speech and manners that attracts
attention and remark; by exaggeration I mean the too constant use of
the superlative in conversation, and a certain incongruity and
inappropriateness of expression which is very offensive to the
cultivated taste. Such expressions as "perfectly awful," "perfectly
beautiful," "too lovely for anything," "hateful," "horrible," may
constantly be heard in conversation upon trivial and unimportant
subjects in companies of young people whose educational opportunities
and social advantages would lead us to expect a very different style of
conversation. So of incongruous and inappropriate expressions. "My
grandfather and grandmother died on the same day of the year? wasn't it
funny?" said a young miss to a companion She meant that it was a strange
circumstance or coincidence. It was the wise remark of a great man that
"culture kills exaggeration." True and careful culture should also weed
out from our beautiful and expressive English language all such
incongruities and blemishes of speech as I have indicated.

Referring once more to what I have said about obtrusiveness,
forwardness, or boldness, being an unpleasant characteristic of the
manners of many young people of the present day, I want to impress upon
you that much of this boldness arises from lack of deference or
reverence for parents, teachers, and older people. This lack of
deference is a great defect of character in any young person. It is
painfully noticeable in many homes where children never seem to think of
paying any respect to the presence of their parents or older people;
where they will monopolize conversation at table, interrupt their
parents and guests to ask irrelevant questions or relate irrelevant
incidents, enter a room abruptly, and, without waiting to learn whether
any one is speaking, at once begin to speak of something pertaining to
their own affairs. All this is bad behavior and bad manners. It is
morally wrong as well. God has commanded that we shall honor our father
and mother; and one beautiful precept of scripture is, "Thou shalt rise
up before the hoary head and honor the face of the old man."

To sum up in the short space of one letter the more important truths I
would impress upon your mind in regard to behavior and manners, let me
say this: There are good manuals of etiquette and social form which
should be read and studied by all young people. There are, also,
constant opportunities for observation of the conduct and manners of
polite people, by which young people may and should profit and learn to
observe the outward forms of society. These are easily learned and
practiced; but the finest, best, most genuine good manners can never be
acquired except as they become the natural expression of gentleness,
kindness intelligence, respect for parents and elders, and an earnest
desire to do good to our fellow beings. Strive, my dear child, to
cherish these graces in your heart, and good behavior and good manners
will naturally follow.



LETTER II.

SELF-CONTROL AND SELF-CULTURE.


_My Dear Daughter:_--One great and difficult lesson is given to each of
us to learn in this life, which must be learned if we ever hope to live
happy or useful lives. It is the lesson of self-control. Parents and
teachers and circumstances may help or hinder in the learning of this
lesson; but it depends mainly upon yourself, upon your own individual
will, whether you shall learn it or not. It is the first lesson which
wise parents and teachers strive to teach a child. It is the
fundamental, the all-important lesson of life. It extends to every
department of our nature and affects every act and-event of our lives.
Take notice with me how the possession or non-possession of the power of
self-control affects the lives of young people in a few particulars.

Certain self-evident duties are imposed upon every rational being. One
of the first of these is the duty of being usefully employed a large
portion of our time. It is probable that nearly all young people have a
certain dislike for work, and self-control must come in to help them do
the work that belongs to them to do. It may help you in acquiring this
self-control to reflect often what a really great thing it is to be able
to compel yourself to do from a sense of duty what you are naturally
disinclined to do? also what an unworthy and, indeed, contemptible thing
it is not to be able to make yourself do what you know you ought to do.
You are perhaps disinclined, for instance, to rise when you should in
the morning. You feel disposed to indulge your ease and comfort, and to
lie in bed when you know you should be awake and preparing for the day.
Here is one of the very instances in which if you will learn to control
and compel yourself you will soon reap substantial reward. The more you
indulge yourself, the harder does the task of rising and getting ready
for the day become. But say to yourself, "I will waken right away," rise
and walk around a little, and you will be surprised to find how soon the
habit of prompt rising will become easy. You have your morning duties to
perform, or your lessons to learn. If you say to yourself, when it is
time you should begin, "I will not loiter, but immediately set about my
work or study," you will find in the very act and determination a help
and strength, and pleasure even, which you can never imagine before you
have experienced it. God has so made us that in the very performance of
duty, however trivial, there is a reward and strength and a very high
kind of pleasure. But we need firm self-control to compel ourselves
thus to do our duty. I shall rejoice if any words of mine lead you to
test for yourself the truth of what I have said.

Self-control should extend to our speech, temper, and pleasures. To be
able to control the tongue is rightly esteemed one of the greatest of
moral achievements. You remember what the apostle James says, that "if
any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to
bridle [control] the whole body." It is so easy to say cross or unkind
words; so easy to make slighting or gossiping remarks about companions
or friends; so hard to efface the painful effects of such hasty or
ill-considered speech. It is so easy to make a petulant or disrespectful
reply to parents or teachers when they reprove; so much harder, yet so
much better, to acknowledge a fault and feel and express sorrow for
wrong-doing. Your own conscience and consciousness tell you how much
happier you feel when you have done the latter. Yet you need, over and
over again, to fortify yourself against temptation to hasty or
ill-natured or improper speech by determining beforehand that you will
not give way to the temptation; that you will control yourself. And
whenever you have allowed yourself to be overcome by such temptation you
should make it the occasion of serious reflection and earnest resolve to
be more guarded in future. You will have attained a great deal in the
direction of high and noble character when you have learned to control
your speech. It is the same in regard to controlling your temper. But
there is one truth of which I can assure you: If you will learn to be
silent and not speak at all when you feel that your temper is getting or
has gotten the better of you, you will soon get the better of your
temper. There is no such efficient discipline for a hasty temper as
determined, self-imposed silence. Then, too, there is a dignity about
silence under provocation that is impressive and effective. The greatest
disadvantage at which any person can be placed in the eyes of companions
and friends is that of losing control of one's tongue as well as of
one's temper. In nearly every case where we receive provocation or
affront, speech may be silver, but "silence is golden." The person who
keeps control of his temper controls everyone.

Self-control, once acquired, will be the most important factor in
helping to shape your life rightly in every direction It will keep you
from hurtful indulgence in mere pleasure; from harmful indulgence in
rich or improper foods; from too much dissipation of time and thought in
social enjoyment It will help you to leave the society of companions and
other pleasures in order to put your mind upon your studies or your
tasks; help you, when you find lessons hard and long, and that earnest
work is required to learn them, to perform that long and earnest work;
help you, when you feel disposed to give way to indisposition or
indolence, to hold steadily on till your tasks, no matter what they are,
are accomplished.

And as good behavior is the root of good manners, so self-control is the
root of all true self-culture. We hear a great deal now-a-days about
culture, cultured people, cultivated society, etc., and it is a good and
natural wish to possess culture and to be classed among cultured people.
Intelligence and good manners are the only passport into the charmed
circle. Self-control will enable us to become possessed of both. It will
enable us to restrain ourselves from all rude, loud, hasty, ungentle
speech and action, help us to modulate our voices, and even cultivate
our laughter. It will also enable us, through mental application and
effort, to acquire knowledge. So abundant are the intellectual treasures
now brought within the reach of everyone by the cheapness of standard
educational works of every kind, that the young person who is not
intelligent through reading and study has only himself or herself to
blame. Self-control will help you to study and learn faithfully when you
are in school; it will help you to decide upon and carry out some useful
course of reading and study if you are not in school; and this, even
though you have many other duties to perform. In every town and village
may be found persons competent to advise and direct courses of study and
reading for those who have the energy to pursue them. You will have no
excuse at any period of your life for failure to progress and improve
intellectually, except your own inability to compel yourself to make
use of the opportunities that lie all around you.

It is hardly necessary for me to remind you of what you know so well,
that in reading you should choose only the best books. We may without
harm divert the mind for a little each day by light miscellaneous
reading, but young people especially need to be warned against
indiscriminate novel or story reading. Here again the virtue of
self-control comes in to help do the right and avoid the wrong. If you
discover that your taste is more for the improbable highly-wrought pages
of fiction than for such works as are known to everyone as standard and
improving, let it be a sign to you that you should summon your
self-control and compel yourself to a different sort of reading. If you
find that you cannot relish or fix your mind upon standard works of
history biography, travel, or any of the many excellent books written
to bring scientific knowledge within the comprehension of the general
reader, then you may conclude rightly that your mind is in a very
uncultivated state.

Your own efforts and determination--in other words, your power of
self-control--alone can effect anything worthy in self-culture. To
attain the power of self-control in a high degree is one of the greatest
and most important aims we can set before us in life. I do not believe
it can ever be attained in our own strength. To rightly control temper
and speech and conduct requires help from the divine Spirit which is
always around and over us, and within us, if we will but let our hearts
be receptive to its influences. The greatest possible help to
self-control is to learn in the moment of temptation to lift the heart
to God in earnest aspiration for His help and guidance. A sense of the
presence of God is always a strength, and help when we are conscious of
earnest effort to do right. The Bible says: "It is God that worketh in
you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." It is one of the great
mysteries and yet one of the most evident truths of life, that we must
work ourselves, and that God works in and with us, to accomplish any
good thing. That you may know and realize this truth, and learn to find
for yourself the comfort and support and strength of soul that comes
from seeking after God, is my most earnest hope and prayer for you.



LETTER III.

AIMS IN LIFE.


_My Dear Daughter:_--There is no disputing the fact that in making plans
for life very different motives and aims influence young girls from
those which influence young men. Every right-minded and
affectionate-natured young girl looks forward to, and hopes most of all
to have, a home of her own, which it shall be her life-work to keep and
guide. To prepare herself rightly to fulfill all the duties that belong
to the mistress of a home, should be the one all-embracing aim of any
young girl's life; but with this should be other aims, which may help to
prepare her for vicissitudes, emergencies, or disasters, and also give
her worthy occupation and interest in life should she never be called
to the duties of a wife and mother.

To speak first of preparation to become the mistress of a home, should
Providence have such a future in store. What qualities are needed to
insure that a woman shall be a happy home-keeper? Certainly, a good
temper, a cheerful disposition, a willingness to give time and thought
to the details of home-keeping, commonly called domestic cares, habits
of order and neatness, and good health, so that one may both give and
receive pleasure while discharging the duties of the home.

This thought of a possible future home, the abode of love and happiness,
should be the greatest safeguard to every young girl in her acquaintance
and association with young men. A high ideal of the exclusiveness of
that affection which must be the foundation of every true and happy
home, should constrain every young girl to exercise the greatest
possible caution in regard to the advances of acquaintances of the
opposite sex. Not that there should be a prudish self-consciousness of
manner, or a disposition to suspect matrimonial intentions in every
young gentleman who is friendly and polite to her, but that all young
men should be firmly prevented from coming into any intimacy of
acquaintance or relationship that might cause unhappy and mortifying
reflection in after-time. Treat all young men kindly and respectfully,
if they are polite and respectful to you. Scorn to encourage any to make
advances which you know you will one day repel. But in discouraging such
advances, be kind and respectful. Never do or say anything wilfully to
wound and give pain to the feelings. Remember that the sharpest grief of
life, as well as its greatest happiness, is connected with the
love-making period in the life of all good young people, and never
treat with frivolity or rudeness any earnest feeling on the part of
anyone. The young girl who can rudely repulse the sincere advance of any
honorable young man has some defect in her moral and affectional nature
And as for any advance by a gentleman, young or old, that is not
respectful or sincere, a young girl is much to blame if it ever happens
more than once. Chaffing and teasing about beaux and courtship and
marriage are very unbecoming, and blur that delicacy of feeling which is
the greatest charm in the relation between young people of opposite
sexes.

Cherishing as the happiest ideal of life the possible future home of
your own, you should still remember that it may never be yours, and
should make such other provision for living your life as shall help you
to the next best thing. The first and highest good, next after a home of
your own, is to be able to render to the world some service for which
it will pay you, thus making you independent and enabling you to shape
your life as you wish. You and all young girls of the present generation
are happy in having avenues of useful remunerative occupation open to
you on every hand, and society smiles and approves if you work at
something to win independence and make money. It is scarcely necessary
to remind you that in order to do effective paying work you must choose
some specialty and acquire skill in its exercise before you can hope to
earn any considerable wages or salary. While perfecting yourself in the
specialty you will have abundant opportunity to observe that it takes
patience, perseverance, and determination, to do any kind of work well.
One great reason why so many fail of making any success in life is that
they have not the power of sticking steadily to their work. They get
tired, and want to stop; whereas the true worker works though he is
tired--works till it doesn't tire him to work; works on, unheeding the
numerous temptations to turn aside to this or that diversion. There are
now so many fields of honorable and profitable employment open to young
girls that it is only necessary for you to choose what you will do. But
make a choice to do something useful and worthy of your powers. You will
be happier, and you will be a better and nobler woman, for so doing. You
will be spared the discontent and restlessness of spirit which
characterize the girl with nothing in particular to do, and who often
becomes on this account a nuisance to all earnest people around her.

In order to fulfill aright the duties of any relation of life, the first
requirement the greatest necessity, next to a firm resolution and will,
is good health. Without good health there is no substantial foundation
for anything earthly. Good health is the fountain of human enjoyment and
the greatest of earthly riches. It is the great beautifier; it is the
great preservative of good looks. How strange, then, that so many girls
are so careless, so provokingly careless, of this priceless blessing!
How strange that they will wear clothing that they know tends to break
down their health; tight corsets that compress the lungs and spoil the
natural shape of the body; tight shoes that interfere with the
circulation of blood, and make their noses and hands red, and give them
predisposition to colds and coughs and nervous headaches, all of which
put to severe tests the patience and affection of those around them.
Good health is always attractive; ill-health, invalidism, nervousness,
are very apt to be repellant. Better good health than beauty, if one
were obliged to choose--which one is not, for good health is one of the
chief elements of beauty.

So, if you aim first to be good and kind and intelligent and industrious
and skillful, so that you may be fitted to guide and adorn a home should
you be blessed with one, or to be fitted to shape your life to
usefulness and independence if you never have a home of your own, and if
in connection with these aims you seek to obtain and preserve good
health, you will, so far as this life is concerned, "be thoroughly
furnished unto all good works." You will become a noble woman, whose
adorning will be not alone of the outward appearance, but of the inner
life and of the soul--an adorning which, according to St. Paul, "is in
the sight of God of great price."



LETTER IV.

PERSONAL HABITS.


_My Dear Daughter:_--The power of winning love and friends, which is
such a precious possession to all young people especially to young
girls, will, in connection with good behavior and good manners, depend
very largely upon certain personal habits, chief among which are order,
neatness, promptness, and cheerfulness.

The girl or woman who is personally disorderly and untidy in her room
and dress puts a great strain upon the patience and affection of all
those associated with her who are possessed of refined and cultivated
tastes. In fact, I believe there is nothing so disenchanting, so
contrary to ideal young womanhood as a lack of neatness and tidiness in
person and dress. This wonderful physical organism with which we have
been endowed depends for its perfection and health and attractiveness
upon the care we give it. The teeth, the hair, the complexion, are all
dependent for their beauty--and it is quite right that we should strive
to make them beautiful--upon constant attention to those conditions
which insure their health and perfection. And the most important of
these conditions is cleanliness. At the present time, no young girl can
hope for recognition or welcome in refined and cultivated society, upon
whose teeth tartar and other discoloring deposits are allowed to
accumulate; whose breath is not pure and sweet; whose hair is muggy and
untidily kept; whose finger nails are neglected and dark at the edges.
These things may seem trifles, but they are not, for they are the
outward expression of an inward grace; all these marks really reveal
character. An untidy girl may be talented and good-tempered, but she
lacks one of the most essential qualities for gaining and retaining
respect and affection.

The room of any young girl is a great revealer of character in respect
to real refinement and purity of taste, especially if one comes upon it
somewhat unawares. Not very long since, I was called by unexpected
circumstances to spend a day or two at the house of a friend, where,
owing to the severe illness of two members of the family, the spare
rooms were not available and I was without delay or warning shown to the
private room of a young lady member of the family. It was a low attic
room with a deep dormer window, and, seen unfurnished, might be regarded
as unattractive in size and shape. But the impression it made as I
entered and surveyed it was of refinement, beauty, repose, and purity.
The furniture was plain, but the bed was made up so beautifully, and
looked so inviting in its snowy covering that I did not notice whether
the bedstead was fine or plain. The carpet and papering of the room were
of light neutral tints, and the broad sloping walls which made the sides
of the dormer window were ornamented, the one with a long branch of
dogwood blossoms, the other with graceful groupings of poppies and swamp
grass, painted thereon by the occupant of the room herself. A wicker
rocking-chair had a cushion of bright-colored satine firmly tied in, and
matching the ribbons which were drawn through the bordering interstices
of the chair. A small table, another chair, a footstool, and two or
three simple pictures on the walls, along with wash-stand and bureau,
completed the furnishing of a room that instantly attracted and
delighted the beholder. But the impression above all others that the
room gave was of perfect purity and sweetness and health; and this was
due to the beautiful tidiness and cleanliness everywhere apparent.
Wash-stand and bureau were in perfect order, with their white mats,
clean towels, and every accessory of a refined lady's toilet. The wide
deep closet was filled with the appurtenances of a young lady's
wardrobe, but was strikingly neat and attractive. Shoes and slippers
were laid neatly in a certain place on the shelves; articles of clothing
that are usually difficult to dispose of in an orderly manner, all had
an appropriate place, and so neatly and tidily was everything arranged
that one felt sure the purity and order extended to the most secret
recesses of every place in the room. There was no danger in any
direction of coming upon anything that was not in keeping with the room
of a refined and delicate young girl. The drawers of bureau and
wash-stand, as I happened to have opportunity to observe them, were as
sweet and clean and orderly as the rest of the room. I felt better
acquainted with the character of that young girl after two days
occupation of her beautifully kept and appointed room than a year of
ordinary acquaintance would have given me.

And while I am on the subject of an orderly and daintily kept room, let
me tell you that the modern bane of order and neatness in a house is too
many trivial and useless things, intended perhaps for ornament, but
confusing to the eye, offensive to good taste, and more effective for
catching dust than for anything else. The multiplication of cheap
picture-cards, wall-pockets, brackets, and all sorts of little useless
knicknacks, has helped on this confusion, till one is almost tempted to
regard them as nuisances. A few of these ornamental trifles, arranged
with an eye to a certain unity of design, may do very well; but, as
William Morris, the great apostle of true decorative art in England, has
said, "Better pure empty space than unworthy and confusing ornament."
You may have heard it related of the great naturalist, Thoreau, that he
made a collection of stones during his rambles, and placed them on his
writing-table; but when he found he had to dust them every day, he threw
them away.

This same general principle applies to dress. Too many little trivial
ornaments will destroy the character and dignity of any costume. Better
one or two ornaments of good quality, or better none at all, than half a
dozen of poor quality. And in regard to a young girl's wardrobe, the
same fundamental rule prevails: if every article of apparel is not
daintily clean, it is unbecoming and unworthy a refined personality.
Soiled laces and soiled ribbons are to be shunned; but better
untidiness and soil of the outward apparel than of that which we know by
the general name of underwear, which is far more personal and important
than the outward costume. The more refined the character and taste of
any young girl, the more particular will she be in the matter of all
articles of apparel that are private to herself, that they shall at
least be daintily neat and clean. I need not say to you how
disenchanting it is to see a young lady's foot with a shoe half buttoned
because half the buttons are gone; or to see a slipper slip off and
disclose neglected and untidy hose. No young girl of proper self-respect
or refinement will ever tolerate any such blemishes in her wardrobe.

Next in importance to habits of order and personal neatness comes the
habit of promptness. The girl who loiters and dawdles and keeps people
waiting, who is behindhand with her work as well as in keeping her
appointments, who is never ready at meal-time, but who is always ready
with some excuse for such annoying conduct, is a household nuisance, a
really painful trial to all who are brought into intimate relations with
her. How often have I wished it were possible to arouse the
consciousness of daughters in comfortable homes to the pain and
inconvenience they give their parents and friends by a habitual lack of
promptness! For my own part, I remember how my conscience was first
aroused, in my youth, on this point. I was reading a book written for
young girls by Jane Taylor--a writer I wish were in print now--when I
came across this instruction: "When you hear the bell ring for meals,
rise immediately, leave whatever you are doing, and at once go to the
table." Just as I was reading this sentence the bell rang, and I
immediately obeyed the summons. I noticed that my mother needed my help
in seating the younger children at the table and attending to their
wants, and I gave her my assistance. Somehow the meal seemed to pass off
more pleasantly than usual, and I felt my conscience prick me that I had
so often given my mother trouble by loitering and delaying at meal-time.
I resolved that henceforth I would be promptly on hand to help her. From
that time there was a marked change for the better in the ease with
which our family meals were served, and all because I was always
promptly on hand to help my mother. I do not know that she or any of the
family knew or noticed the reason, but I was very well aware of it. It
was really a kind of turning-point in my habits of life and usefulness
at home. To this day I never hear a bell ring for meals, without the
injunction of Jane Taylor coming into my mind: "Rise immediately, leave
whatever you are doing, and go at once to the table." I can assure you,
my child, it would add greatly to the comfort and happiness of many
houses, and greatly relieve many an overtaxed mother, if this good
old-fashioned direction were heeded not only by daughters but by other
members of the family also.

And if now, in addition to these good habits, you cultivate the habit of
cheerfulness and earnestly guard against temptation to fretfulness,
moroseness, or impatience, you will be well started on the way towards a
useful and lovely womanhood. A good daughter in a home is a well-spring
of joy, an ever-fresh source of delight and consolation to her parents.
Especially is she the stay and support and strength of her mother, the
happiness of whose life depends so largely upon the respectful and
affectionate conduct and attentions of her children.



LETTER V.

SOCIETY--CONVERSATION.


_My Dear Daughter:_--To give and receive pleasure in those pleasant
assemblages and meetings of acquaintances and friends known by the
general name of society, is one of the worthy minor aims of life. It is
one of the marks of an advancing state of intelligence and culture, when
an assemblage of gentlemen and ladies can pass delightful hours in the
mere interchange of thought in conversation. And while games and other
amusements may serve for a temporary variety (always excepting games
known as "kissing-games," which should be promptly tabooed and
denounced, and ever will be in truly refined society), yet animated and
intelligent conversation must always hold the first place in the list
of the pleasures of any refined society circle.

How shall a young girl fit herself to enjoy and to afford enjoyment in
general society? Certainly the first requisites are intelligence, a good
knowledge of standard literature, a general knowledge of the more
important events that are taking place in the world, and such a
knowledge of the best current literature as may be obtained from the
regular reading of one or two of the standard monthly magazines.

And here it may help you if I particularize a little in regard to a
knowledge of important events of the day and also of general and current
literature. Of course the main source of knowledge of the more important
events that are going on in the world is the daily or weekly newspaper;
and yet there is scarcely any reading so utterly demoralizing to good
mental habits as the ordinary daily paper. More than three-fourths of
the matter printed in the "great city dailies" is not only of no use to
anyone, but it is a positive damage to habits of mental application to
read it. It is a waste of time even to undertake to sift the important
from the unimportant. The most that any earnest person should attempt to
do with a daily paper is to glance over the headlines which give the
gist of the news, and then to read such editorial comments as enable the
reader to understand the more important events and affairs that are
transpiring in the world so that reference to them in conversation would
be intelligent and intelligible. But if one should never see a daily
paper, yet should every week carefully read a digest of news prepared
for a good weekly paper, one would be thoroughly furnished with all
necessary knowledge of contemporaneous events, and the time thus saved
from daily papers could be profitably employed in other reading.

The field of literature is now so vast that no one can hope to be well
acquainted with more than a small portion of it. Yet every well-informed
young person should know the general character of the principal writers
since the time of Shakespere, even though one should never read their
works. You may remember how, in the recently finished novel of "The Rise
of Silas Lapham," the novelist, with a few sentences, shows how
ridiculous a really beautiful and amiable girl with a high-school
education may make herself in conversation by her lack of knowledge of
standard literature. She was telling a young gentleman where the
book-shelves were to be in the splendid new house being built by her
father, and suggesting that the shelves would look nice if the books had
nice bindings.

"'Of course, I presume,' said Irene, thoughtfully, 'we shall have to
have Gibbon.'

"'If you want to read him,' said Corey, with a laugh of sympathy for an
imaginable joke.

"'We had a good deal about him in school. I believe we had one of his
books. Mine's lost, but Pen will remember.'

"The young man looked at her, and then said seriously, 'You'll want
Green, of course, and Motley, and Parkman.'

"'Yes. What kind of writers are they?'

"'They're historians, too.'

"'Oh, yes; I remember now. That's what Gibbon was. Is it Gibbon or
Gibbons?'

"The young man decided the point with apparently superfluous delicacy.
'Gibbon, I think.'

"'There used to be so many of them,' said Irene, gaily. 'I used to get
them mixed up with each other, and I couldn't tell them from the poets.
Should you want to have poetry?'

"'Yes. I suppose some edition of the English poets.'

"'We don't any of us like poetry. Do you like it?'

"'I'm afraid I don't, very much,' Corey owned. 'But of course there was
a time when Tennyson was a great deal more to me than he is now.'

"'We had something about him at school, too. I think I remember the
name. I think we ought to have all the American poets.'

"'Well, not all. Five or six of the best; you want Longfellow, and
Bryant, and Whittier, and Emerson, and Lowell.'

"'And Shakespere,' she added. 'Don't you like Shakespere's plays?... We
had ever so much about Shakespere. Weren't you perfectly astonished when
you found out how many other plays there were of his? I always thought
there was nothing but "Hamlet," and "Romeo and Juliet," and "Macbeth,"
and "Richard III.," and "King Lear," and that one that Robson and Crane
have--oh, yes, "Comedy of Errors!"'"

So you see how ridiculous this young girl, by the betrayal of such
ignorance, made herself in conversation with a cultured young gentleman
whose good opinion she was most anxious to win. And yet, to talk too
much about books is not well; it often marks the pedantic and egotistic
character. It is safe to say that unless one happens to meet a very
congenial mind among conversers in general society, to introduce the
subject of books is liable to be misconstrued. It is not very long since
another popular modern novelist held up to scorn and ridicule the young
woman whose particular ambition seemed to be to let society know what an
immense number of books she had been reading. Nevertheless, one must
have a good groundwork of knowledge of books in order to avoid mistakes
such as poor Irene made in talking with young Corey.

Directions and suggestions for aiding young people to become agreeable
and pleasant conversers must necessarily be mainly negative. Taken for
granted that a young person possesses animation good sense,
intelligence, and a genuine interest in her companions and the world
around her; is observing, and can speak grammatically without
hesitating; knows the difference between "you and I" and "you and me"
(which I am sorry to say a great many young girls of my acquaintance do
not, for I constantly hear them saying, "He brought you and I a
bouquet," or, "You and me are invited to tea this evening"), she can
almost certainly be a pleasant and entertaining converser if she avoids
certain things, as, for instance:

1. She must avoid talking about herself, her exploits, her acquirements,
her entertainments, her beaux, etc. Especially should she avoid seeking
to make an impression by frequent mention of advantageous friends or
circumstances. The greatest observer and commentator upon manners that
ever wrote was Mr. Emerson. In one of his essays he says: "You shall not
enumerate your brilliant acquaintances, nor tell me by their titles what
books you have read. I am to infer that you keep good company by your
good manners and better information; and to infer your reading from the
wealth, and accuracy of your conversation."

2. She must avoid a loud tone of voice, and also avoid laughing too much
and too easily. To laugh aloud is a dangerous thing, unless all noise
and harshness have been cultivated out of the voice, as ought to be done
in every good school. The culture of the voice is one of the most
important elements in making a pleasant converser. American girls and
women are accused by cultivated foreigners of having loud, harsh,
strident voices; and there is too much truth in the accusation. Nor is
there any excuse for unpleasant, harsh, rough, nasal tones of voice in
these days when in every good school instruction is given in the
management of the voice for reading and conversation. The cause of
harshness and loudness is often mere carelessness on the part of young
people. But talking in too loud a tone is scarcely less unpleasant to
the listeners than the use of too low a tone, which is generally an
affectation.

3. She must avoid frequent attempts at wit; avoid punning, which is the
cheapest possible form of wit; and avoid sarcasm. The talent for being
sarcastic is a most dangerous one. 'No one ever knew a sarcastic woman
who could keep friends. The temptation to be bright and interesting and
to attract attention by the use of sarcasm is very strong, for nearly
all will be interested in it and enjoy it for a little. But were I
obliged to choose between sarcasm and dullness in a young girl, I should
prefer dullness. Happily, this is not a necessary alternative.

4. She must avoid a kind of joking and badinage that should never be
heard among well-bred young people in society--that about courtship and
marriage. Much harm, much blunting of fine sensibilities, much
destruction of that delicate modesty which is the priceless dower of
young girlhood, comes of such jesting and joking where it is permitted
without restraint or reproof. A young girl may not be called upon to
reprove it, but she certainly can shun the company of those who are
given to such vulgarity (for no other term will rightly describe it),
and she can certainly refrain from joining in any conversation of this
description.

Always remember that to be a good converser you must be a good listener.
Very often people acquire a pleasant reputation and popularity in
society by the exercise of this talent alone--that of listening with
attention and interest to what other people say. Be especially careful
to avoid interrupting one who is speaking. Many a fine and noble
thought, many an interesting discussion, is broken off and lost by the
irrelevant interruption of some thoughtless person. One reason why the
art of conversation has so degenerated in these days is that so few have
a real interest in hearing the fine thoughts of good thinker and
talkers. So many people want to talk about themselves, or their affairs,
that it is in many circles almost an impossibility to maintain a high
and elevating conversation. Until years and experience, as well as wide
reading and information, have given you the right to express freely your
opinions in society, it will be well to listen a great deal more than
you speak, especially when in the company of your elders. Avoid all
sentimentality, or the discussion of subjects that would expose the
private and sacred feelings of the heart. Do not quote poetry; do not
ask people's opinions on delicate and individual questions. I have heard
a young boarding-school graduate embarrass a whole room-full of
excellent and educated people by asking a young gentleman if he did not
think Longfellow very inferior to Lowell in his love poems. Among those
of your own age let what you have to say relate to everything more than
to the doings or sayings of other people. In this way you will avoid
that bane of social conversation--gossip. In all social relations strive
to throw your influence for that which is faithful, sincere, kind,
generous, and just. Have a special thought and regard for those who may
labor under disadvantages? be especially kind to the shrinking and
timid, to the poor and unfortunate. Strive to be worthy of the
confidence and respect and love of your associates, and all your
relations to society will be easily and naturally and happily adjusted.



LETTER VI.

ASSOCIATES AND FRIENDS.


_My Dear Daughter:_--When I was a young girl, I well remember that my
parents judged who were and who were not desirable and proper associates
for their children, chiefly by reference to the parents and family of
our young companions. It was taken for granted that the children of
good, honorable, Christian people, who strove to train their children to
obedience and a conscientious life, would be suitable companions for us;
and this criterion in nearly every instance proved to be a true one. In
only one instance, indeed, did it fail; and I well remember the shock it
gave a whole circle of young people, when a young companion, the son of
an eminent clergyman, was sent home on account of his language and
conduct after one week's visit among friends, when it had been expected
by all that he would stay two or three months.

But in these days this criterion of family and parentage is
insufficient; for, sad as it may seem, the children of really excellent
parents are often so derelict in duty, so lacking in conscientiousness,
so idle and aimless and frivolous that their companionship should be
dreaded for susceptible young people especially for young girls. One
thing is very certain: that in these days young people, when out of
sight of their parents, often act and talk in a way which they certainly
would not do in their parents' presence. And that is truly a distressing
fear which often comes to the hearts of excellent and faithful parents,
that the conduct of their children when out of their sight and restraint
may be totally at variance with all they have been taught in regard to
right and proper conduct.

Now all people, old or young, are influenced in conduct somewhat by
their associates and friends; but young people especially are
susceptible to the influence of example. And it is a painful but well
known fact that young people are much more easily and quickly influenced
by bad example than by good. One frivolous, vain, forward, pert young
girl, coming for a season into association with a company of young
people, may in a few short weeks make her impress on the manners and
conversation of the whole of them. Her slang expressions will be
adopted; her loud manners and eccentricities of dress will be imitated;
her frivolity and dislike for any of the serious duties of life will
prove contagious.

For you, and for any young girl, I would consider dangerous and harmful
intimate association with:

1. The young girl who, either from circumstances or natural
disposition, does not compel herself, or is not compelled to do
something--to study her lessons and take some useful share in every-day
duties. "Nothing to do is worse than nothing to eat," said a great man,
Thomas Carlyle; and observing parents or teachers know this to be
especially true of young people. It makes no difference that they don't
want to do anything or to exert themselves. The very absence of exertion
makes them weak and indisposed to effort. It is a lamentable lack at the
present time among a large proportion of the daughters of comfortable
and refined homes, that they have small physical strength and no
qualities of endurance at all. They are "all tired out" if they sweep
and dust or do housework for an hour or two, or take a half-mile walk on
an errand, or sew continuously for an hour. Very likely they will want
to lie down and rest an hour after such exertion. This is all the
result of unexercised muscles and mental indolence. That mother was
quite right, who, when her boarding-school daughter complained that it
made her arms ache to sweep, replied: "Well, you must sweep till it
doesn't make them ache." Mind and body both grow strong through
exercise. Unexercised muscles, of course, will be weak and flabby and
tire easily. But the young girl whom it tires to work is most likely on
the _qui vive_ about some folly or other nearly all the time. Lack of
healthful mental and bodily occupation and stimulus will almost
certainly produce a craving for unhealthy excitement. Such a girl is apt
to be constantly planning for mere pleasure and to have "a good time."
And, oh! what an unsatisfying, unworthy aim in life is this, and how
pernicious in its effects! Pleasure and "a good time" are all very
well, but unless they are partaken of sparingly they produce a mental
effect similar to that which the constant use of desserts and
sweetmeats, instead of plain substantial food, would produce in the
physical system. Association with the idle and the mere pleasure-seeker
is therefore to be guarded against, for their influence cannot but be
harmful.

2. Although perfection is not to be expected in any companion or
associate, yet there are certain defects of character which are so grave
that parents cannot afford to encourage their children in associating
with those who exhibit these in a marked degree. Untruthfulness; the
habit of gossiping about friends or acquaintances or divulging family
privacies; sullenness and moroseness under reproof; rebellious and
disrespectful expressions and conduct toward parents and teachers;
indifference to the good opinion of sensible people, as shown by
unusual and startling conduct in public places; all such things mark the
undesirable associate for young girls. But there are young girls against
whom none of these complaints could be made, who are undesirable
companions because they are wholly absorbed in love of dress and display
and desire to be admired and noticed. It is generally among this class
that we find young girls who prefer to an altogether unreasonable and
unbecoming extent, the society of young men to the society of their own
sex. It is among these that we find the young lady who does not know how
to prevent undue familiarity in the conduct of young men; who will
tolerate without disapprobation or protest, rude conduct on the part of
young men. This over-eagerness for their society, and easy toleration of
too familiar conduct and conversation, young men, who are quick
discerners in such matters, are very apt to take advantage of. Only the
best and most high-principled among them will refrain from doing so.

I have spoken of the influence that a frivolous, vain, selfish companion
will be sure to exercise over those with whom she is intimately
associated. For you, as for any young girl, I would seek to prevent such
associations. On the other hand, I should rejoice to see you form
friendships with good, high-minded, intelligent, gentle-mannered girls
of your own age, and should hope that you would mutually emulate and
stimulate each other in all worthy aims and ambitions. Such friendships,
however, are seldom hastily formed. The gushing and violent attachments
that sometimes spring up between young girls are sure to be of mushroom
growth and duration, unless there is genuine character and merit in
both. During the period of the continuance of such friendships, a great
deal of "selfishness for two" is often developed and manifested. Very
often when young people are visiting together their attentions to each
other seem to make them forget their duties and the attentions due to
other people. Here is one of the best tests of the true character of a
young girl: her conduct in the house where she is a visitor. If she is
truly well-mannered and kind-hearted she will certainly be on her guard
to conform to the hours and habits of the household where she is a
guest; she will avoid making any demands upon the time of her friend
that would cause that friend to neglect her daily duties or put to
inconvenience the other members of the family. She will divide her
attentions with all the members of the family, having special regard for
the very young or the very old. She will, above all things, be prompt
and punctual at meal-time. Her own tact and judgment will enable her to
judge how much assistance she should offer, if any, to the friends she
visits--a matter which must always be determined by circumstances. In
some families and under some circumstances it might be a breach of
decorum and an act of officiousness on the part of a visitor to make any
offer of assistance in the matter of the daily household arrangements.
In other families and under other circumstances it might be an act of
the kindest and best politeness to undertake every day during her visit
a portion of the daily home-duties. That which a young girl who is a
visitor in any family should first of all observe, is the wishes and
convenience of the older people of the household. If the friend she is
visiting should show too much disposition to make everything about the
house bend to the occasion of the visit, the visitor should deprecate
this, both by word and example. Every mother of young daughters knows
the difference between visitors who are thoughtful and deferential and
helpful, and those whose overweening interest in self and selfish plans
makes them oblivious to the convenience and wishes and preferences of
their hostess and other members of the family.

If one wished thoroughly to understand the character of any young girl,
no better test could be applied than to invite her to a three weeks'
family visit. By daily observation one could then learn how near in
character and disposition, in habits and manners, she approached that
beautiful ideal of the poet Lowell which I wish every young girl might
constantly strive to imitate and attain to:

    "In herself she dwelleth not,
      Although no home were half so fair;
    No simplest duty is forgot,
    Life hath no dim and lowly spot
      That doth not in her sunshine share.

    "She doeth little kindnesses
      Which most leave undone or despise;
    For naught that sets our heart at ease,
    And giveth happiness or peace,
      Is low esteemed in her eyes.

    "She hath no scorn of common things,
      And, though she seem of other birth,
    Round us her heart entwines and clings,
    And patiently she folds her wings
      To tread the humble paths of earth.

    "Blessing she is; God made her so,
      And deeds of week-day holiness
    Fall from her noiseless as the snow,
    Nor hath she ever chanced to know
      That aught were easier than to bless.

    "She is most fair, and thereunto
      Her life doth brightly harmonize;
    Feeling or thought that was not true
    Ne'er made less beautiful the blue
      Unclouded heaven of her eyes."



LETTER VII.

TACT--UNOBTRUSIVENESS.


_My Dear Daughter:_--In one of my letters to you, I said that there were
certain excellent manuals which contained important general and special
directions concerning the forms and manners or etiquette of polite
society, and that all young people should study and profit by some
standard works of this kind. But there are a great many things
pertaining to the conduct of life, that go to make up character and
affect the impression we make upon those around us, which are not set
down in books and cannot be imparted by set forms and rules. For
instance, one of the most desirable possessions for any person, young or
old, is tact--a power of moving on through life without constantly
coming into collision with people and things and opinions. And yet no
rules were ever laid down by which anyone can learn to acquire tact. It
is rather the natural result of a disposition to make people with whom
we are associated comfortable and happy, since in order to do this we
must constantly guard against arousing antagonisms or wounding the
susceptibilities of those around us.

Now, to illustrate by some instances of lack of tact: A lady guest at a
table where broiled ham was the meat provided, declined to take any, and
then added, "I don't think pork is fit food for any human stomach." Of
course an embarrassment fell upon host and hostess and all the company,
and the rest of the meal-time was passed in an ineffectual endeavor to
restore conversation to a harmonious basis. What caused this lady to
make such a remark? Simply lack of tact, which means that she had not
the fine sensitiveness that would prevent her from wounding the feelings
of her friends. She had no delicacy of perception as to the reflection
she cast upon her host and hostess by so brusquely condemning something
to which they were habituated. This is one instance of lack of tact, but
here is another of different character: A company of educated people sat
down at table together, and the conversation happened to turn on the
question of the authorship of Shakespeare's plays. One lady, who was a
recent college graduate and supposed to be possessed of an unusual
degree of culture, said in a most positive manner: "I think the
advocates of the theory that some one other than Shakespeare wrote the
plays attributed to him, simply show their ignorance and shallowness."
An uncomfortable pause fell upon, the company, for two of the best
informed people present were entirely convinced that some one other
than Shakespeare wrote the plays. It was simply lack of tact that
betrayed this lady into a positiveness and obtrusiveness of statement
that made others uncomfortable and aroused their antagonism. Here is
still another instance: One lady was introduced to another lady who was
the wife of a gentleman much older than herself. After catching the name
the lady said: "Are you the wife of old Mr. C----?" Of course everybody
around who had any sensibility was pained and embarrassed by such a
blunt, brusque question. Yet the lady who displayed this want of tact
was a college graduate and the principal teacher in an important school.

Now, no rule or rules will ever prevent anyone from doing and saying
things which show lack of tact. Nothing will do it but the cultivation
of a spirit of sympathy which will enable one to realize how other
people feel when their opinions and peculiarities or circumstances are
so bluntly antagonized or alluded to. I know an excellent and
high-minded lady, of superior intellectual culture, who often complains
that she has few friends. She says that she longs for the affection and
esteem of her friends, yet, as she expresses it, she has "no personal
magnetism." I was once present in a literary society of which this lady,
Mrs. A., was a member. Another member, Mrs. B., made a statement about a
matter under discussion in the society, when Mrs. A. arose and said,
bluntly: "That is not true." Everybody was astonished, and listened
almost indignantly while Mrs. A. went on to show that Mrs. B. had simply
been misinformed and was mistaken. It would have been entirely easy and
proper for Mrs. A. to ask permission to correct a misapprehension on the
part of Mrs. B., and she could have done it in such a way as would have
wounded nobody's feelings. Mrs. A., while she complains that she has few
friends, frequently asserts that she believes in saying just what she
thinks. This is all well enough, but she says it with so little tact as
to constantly wound the feelings and antagonize the opinions of everyone
around her.

Tact is as important in manners as in speech. The word is closely allied
to the word _touch_, and a person who has good tact is really one who
can touch people gently, carefully, kindly, in all the relations of
life. In the animal creation no creature has more perfect tact than a
well-bred kindly-treated household cat. You may have seen one of these
enter a room where perhaps a circle of people were seated around a stove
or open fire. Puss wants her warm place in front of the fire or stove,
but she does not brusquely and rudely push her way there. No. She
glides gently, purringly around the circle, rubs caressingly against
this one and that, as though gently saying, "By your leave"; and when
finally she reaches the desired spot, she lays herself down so
gracefully and quietly and curls herself up so deftly that to witness
the act really affords pleasure to the observer. A creature of less tact
and grace would only appear obtrusive and offend and antagonize the
company, and probably rightfully receive reproof and be ejected from the
room.

And so I would wish to see you and all young people cultivate tact;
study how to speak and act so as to touch gently all with whom you are
associated. Behind the best tact lies the wish to be kind and to make
people comfortable and happy, to avoid wounding and irritating; and so
it is true that the basis of true tact is, after all, the moral
sentiment.

The young person who would cultivate tact in speech and manners will
carefully guard against obtrusiveness. This is a defect in the manners
of so many people, both young and old, and includes such a multitude of
things, that it is worth while to particularize a little upon it.
Quietness, repose, order, are distinguishing marks of cultivated social
life everywhere, and to people who are habituated to these conditions of
life it is painful to have incongruous or inappropriate acts or sounds
thrust upon their attention. Here is a generalization that explains the
reason why many things, harmless in themselves are unpleasant to and
offend the taste of cultivated people. No really cultivated young girl
will, for instance, open and play upon a piano in a hotel parlor or any
other parlor at inappropriate times or when it is occupied by strangers.
She will never perform in public any of the duties of the toilet, such
as cleaning her nails or using a tooth-pick. She will not eat peanuts or
fruit or candy, or chew gum, in public places. In fact, I cannot imagine
a really refined young lady chewing gum even in the privacy of her own
room, so offensive is it to good taste. She will not descant upon bodily
ailments in the drawing-room or at the table. She will not rush noisily
up and down stairs or through the house, clashing doors and startling
everyone with unpleasant noises. She will not interrupt people who are
conversing, to ask an irrelevant question or one pertaining to her own
affairs. She will not slap an acquaintance familiarly on the shoulder,
or make special displays of affection or intimacy before people. She
will if possible suppress the sudden sneeze, and use every effort to
quiet a cough. She will not go uninvited into the private room of
anyone, nor into the kitchen of her hostess where she is a visitor. All
such things really inflict pain upon sensitive people; they offend
because they obtrude; and all similar actions and obtrusiveness are to
be carefully avoided by everyone who desires to acquire a true and
genuine culture of action, speech, and manners. It is well worth your
while to think earnestly and often upon these things; to learn to
understand why so many thoughtless actions on the part of young people
are set down to a general lack of cultivation. All such obtrusiveness
must be done away with before we shall be able to realize the prayer of
David, "that our daughters may be like corner-stones, polished after the
similitude of a palace."



LETTER VIII.

WHO ARE THE CULTIVATED?


_My Dear Daughter:_--No words in the English language are so much
bandied about in efforts to describe or classify society at the present
day as are the words "culture," "cultured," "cultivated" and their
antitheses. These are the terms that intimidate the vain, selfish,
illiterate rich; for to be described as "rich but uncultivated" is
regarded as a greater slur upon the social standing of families than to
be reported as having gained wealth by dishonesty or trickery. And then
the matter is made all the harder for those willing to acquire a
hypocritical polish at any expense if they can only be called
"cultivated," from the fact that they do not know what true culture is,
nor are they able to recognize it when they see it. They are like a
person lacking in all artistic sense, who wishes to buy pictures--at the
mercy of every impostor.

What, then, is the secret that lies behind the demeanor and manners of
the cultivated man or woman, or the cultivated family? What power or
what sentiment modulates the voice to kind and gentle tones; restrains
the boisterous conversation or laughter; gives such a delicate
perception of the rights of others as to make impossible the dictatorial
or arrogant form of address the impertinent question, the personal
familiarity, the curiosity about private affairs, the forwardness in
giving advice or expressing unasked opinions, the boastful statement of
personal possessions or qualities, the action that causes pain or
inconvenience or discomfort to associates or dependents, all of which
are the most common forms of transgression among the uncultivated?

In his famous address on "The Progress of Culture," delivered before a
celebrated college society in Cambridge in 1867, Emerson summed up the
whole matter in one sentence: "The foundation of culture, as of
character, is at last the moral sentiment." Here is the whole secret in
a single sentence. The restraining grace is "at last the moral
sentiment." It is a fine genuine unselfishness that, observing how all
these things may pain and wound, refrains from doing any of them. The
man or woman or family who can avoid transgressing in these particulars
can do so habitually only as the result of a fine moral sentiment
underlying the whole nature. And those who possess or have cultivated in
themselves this fine moral sentiment of unselfishness, justice, and
considerateness, will be surrounded by an atmosphere of culture though
their dwelling-place be an uncarpeted cabin, while those who lack this
restraining grace will be "uncultivated" though their surroundings
afford every comfort, beauty, and luxury. It should be a thought of
encouragement to us, and an inspiration of hope that we may possess the
true and imperishable riches of a cultivated spirit, however poor and
struggling our lives may be, or however barren of external beauty our
surroundings. Culture depends not on material possessions. In fact, the
very abundance of conveniences and comforts and elegances often seems to
have an injurious and deteriorating effect on individuals and families
by producing in them a selfish love of personal ease and exclusiveness.
On the other hand, the painful and patient economizing of humble toilers
often produces an unselfishness and patience and gentleness of demeanor
which is in effect the very finest culture.

In these days of specialists and artists and architects and
upholsterers, anyone who has money can possess himself of the material
surroundings of taste and culture. His house may be "a poem in stone"
exteriorly, and a "symphony in color" in its interior adornments. This
much of the products of genuine culture he may buy with money. But no
money can buy the pearl of great price, the cultured spirit in the
individual or family, without which the most palatial mansion is but a
dead and lifeless shell. Lacking this moral sentiment and culture, how
many a handsomely appointed home is the abode of rudeness, unkindness,
selfishness, and misery! The rude speech or cutting retort or selfish
act are doubly and trebly incongruous when pictured walls and frescoed
ceilings and luxurious surroundings of artistic beauty are the silent
witnesses of the vulgarity. On the other hand, there is opportunity for
the display of the best and kindest and most cultivated manners in the
humble home where lack of suitable furnishings and dearth of
conveniences puts everyone's unselfishness to the test.

I have frequently heard wise parents and teachers speak of the
perplexity of spirit which they feel when they see that in so many
instances the acquirement of accomplishments, as they are termed, fails
to add any moral strength or beauty to the character of the young people
in whose welfare and advancement their hearts are so entirely absorbed.
This young girl sings and plays beautifully, paints and draws in a
genuinely artistic manner, speaks French and German like a native, and
yet she is ill-tempered and shrewish if circumstances happen to cross
her inclination. Here is a young man who is possessed of a fine
collegiate education, and who is also an excellent musician. Yet he can
be rude and disrespectful to his mother, insolent to his father,
overbearing and arrogant towards servants and subordinates, and a
perfect boor to his younger brothers and sisters. Both these young
persons have uncultivated spirits. So we see that the cultivation of the
intellectual nature, the acquirement of accomplishments, the practice of
any art, the advantages of travel, the surroundings of elegance, may or
may not tend to the genuine culture of the spirit; and as wise and
earnest parents and teachers perceive this truth, they realize more and
more that the great problem of culture, alike for parent and teacher, is
how to develop the moral sentiment.



LETTER IX.

RELIGIOUS CULTURE AND DUTY.


_My Dear Daughter:_--I have endeavored in my previous letters to give
you a kind of outline series of directions and instructions in matters
that pertain to the ordinary every day duties of life. I have spoken of
the motives that should influence your actions, and have tried to show
you that all truly lovely and beautiful conduct must have a basis in the
moral sentiment. I have reserved till this last letter what I have to
say to you on the most important subject of all: the infinitely
momentous subject of religious culture and duty.

In the first place I must explain that there is a great difference
between the methods and circumstances of religious instruction now and
those which surrounded the youth of the maturer generation. When people
of the age of your parents were young, the habits of family life were
such that religious observances held a place of first importance. All
household affairs were arranged with reference to morning and evening
worship, which consisted of singing, reading the Bible, and prayer. No
matter how much work was to be done, the family must rise in time to
allow for the performance of this service. Children heard so much about
God, and heaven, and the life beyond death, that often a morbid and
unnatural frame of mind was induced. Parents and instructors often
forgot to make allowance for the fact that youth naturally and rightly
loves and enjoys this life, and rightly and naturally dreads death. So
much was said about the other world that it seemed almost a sin to think
about or plan much for this. God and heaven were imagined as close
above in the sky? the judgment day was ever held threateningly before
us; and pictures of a literal lake of fire and brimstone, into which
wicked people would be cast, were painted for the imagination of
children, till, as the experience of hundreds testifies, even the most
conscientious of them feared to close their eyes in sleep at night lest
they should awake in that terrible place of torment.

From this doubtless too severe and harsh religious regime, a reaction
has taken place which has thrown the customs of family life and the
religious education of the young people of to-day far into the opposite
extreme. The hurry and railroad rush of modern social and commercial
life have shortened or even cut off entirely the hours for family
worship. In the modern effort to emphasize the fact that God is love,
the other fact that sin deserves and receives punishment has been
thrown too far into the background, or is ignored altogether. Regular
reading of the Bible has become as rare as it formerly was universal.
Irreverence and skepticism in regard to its truths and teachings
permeate a large portion of society, and the general influence of the
social life of young people is opposed to the cultivation or expression
of the religious spirit or aspiration. All this involves the loss of a
most valuable mental and spiritual discipline, and earnest parents of
to-day are at a loss how to supply it.

I will press upon your attention only one argument for the culture of a
religious spirit, and that is the argument of experience. What is the
universal testimony of those whose lives are really governed by the fear
and love of a divine Creator? It is that in the consciousness of a
desire to obey God and live in harmony with His laws they find their
highest happiness.

To everyone who lives beyond the earliest period of childhood, comes at
some time or other sorrow, disappointment, sickness, loss, bereavement.
The great fact of death looms up at the end of every pathway, however
bright and happy. The universal testimony of the human race, from the
earliest records of human experience to the present time, is that only
faith and hope in a beneficent God ruling over all events can sustain
and comfort the human heart through all the changes and vicissitudes of
life, and reconcile to the thought of death.

Early youth is naturally happy, gay, care-free, and indifferent to
sorrows and fears of which it knows nothing. But there comes a time to
every sensible and earnest young heart when it realizes the
transitoriness of all earthly things, and longs for something on which
the heart can take hold and rest. I do not believe any young person
fails of this experience sooner or later. It is a hunger of the heart
which nothing but the love of God can fill, and if, when it is first
felt, the heart only humbly and earnestly turns to God with high and
firm resolve to seek a knowledge of Him and His laws, to bring all
actions and plans of life into harmony with His revealed will, the
foundation of an enduring happiness is laid for this life, and doubtless
for the life to come.

But this desire and effort after a knowledge of God and obedience to His
will do not come without a struggle. We are strange and mysterious
creatures, having within us a nature that is most susceptible to
temptations, to do evil. Every one of us is conscious of a struggle
constantly going on in our hearts and lives between evil and good. The
temptations to selfishness, greed, unkindness, untruthfulness,
irreverence, indolence, are constant and severe until we have by long
conflict and repeated victory habituated our hearts to choosing the
right. Yet every victory over self and temptation helps us toward that
spiritual attainment which will in time enable us to say, with the sweet
psalmist of Israel: "The Lord is the portion of my soul; the Lord is the
strength of my heart; the Lord is my light and my salvation."

Most usually the heart first turns toward God with deep earnestness
through sorrow. There are many griefs and burdens of life which cannot
be alleviated or lightened in any way except by spiritual comfort and
help. And this spiritual comfort and help are among the deepest
realities of life. There is a strength, a happiness, a peace and a
support in sorrow which the world can neither give nor take away. How
priceless a blessing to possess! The saddest, darkest, most suffering
life can be irradiated and uplifted and enriched by this spiritual
blessing. The most fortunately circumstanced life may be made poor by
its absence. Dean Stanley tells us of a sister who for perhaps forty
years was a constant sufferer from spinal disease, and during that
period almost constantly confined to her couch. Yet her countenance was
irradiated with cheerfulness, and she seemed to inspire everyone who
came near her with comfort, and with ardor and enthusiasm for goodness.
Such examples are not rare. Every community knows some person or persons
sustained in deep affliction, though long continued trial and sorrow and
loss, by this unseen spiritual power. On the other hand, experience and
observation show us constantly recurring examples of discontent,
peevishness, unhappiness, on the part of those who appear to be
specially favored in the possession of the comforts and riches of this
life. Lord Chesterfield said that, having seen and experienced all the
pomps and pleasures of life, he was disgusted with and hated them all,
and only desired, like a weary traveler, to be allowed "to sleep in the
carriage" until the end came. But Paul the apostle, contemplating the
close of his eventful life of sorrow and suffering, said: "I have fought
the good fight? I have finished the course? I have kept the faith:
henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness."

So it seems only a reasonable appeal to every young heart, as soon as it
is mature enough to understand and make choice among the realities and
verities of life, to choose this better part; to keep the heart
receptive to and expectant of this divine comfort and help; to seek to
know and obey the will of this God of all consolation. But this choice
is a purely individual matter. No one can make another person good any
more than he can make him happy. All that anyone, all that the wisest
and best teachers and parents can do, is to present the arguments for
and urge the choice of the better part.

But if it is chosen, or if there is a desire to be enabled to choose it,
what a help and stimulus comes from the reading and study of the Bible,
especially of the Psalms and the New Testament! Therein are recorded
every phase of the spiritual experiences of humanity in its aspiration
after a knowledge of God. Therein are recorded the words and precepts of
"the Great Teacher sent from God," who said that he and the Father were
one, and that he was sent of God to seek and save the lost. Here are the
records of the compassionate expressions that fell from his lips as he
proclaimed his message as the Son of God. Whatever other opinion men may
have of Christ, all must confess that in his words to and about sinning
and sorrowing and suffering men and women, he displayed a love and
sympathy such as earth had never known before, and such as it has known
since, in kind, only in the devoted followers of Christ. To have the
memory stored with these expressions or teachings, or with the prayers
and aspirations of the psalms and the prophecies, is to have a fountain
of comfort and consolation for the heart, that passes all understanding.
But this fact of human experience you must accept on the testimony of
those who have experienced it, until you have experienced it for
yourself.

And thus, my daughter, while I wish for you the possession of all the
graces and adornments of person and character that pertain to and are
possible for the life that now is, how infinitely more do I desire for
you that you may know God and the comforts and consolations of His word
and spirit. To know that you had sought and found for yourself this
knowledge, that you knew and sought the help of the divine spirit in
resisting temptation to do wrong, that in disappointment your heart
would turn to God for comfort, that in sorrow you would seek consolation
in communion with God, would be to feel that your future happiness was
absolutely assured. In this seeking after God, all things would be
yours. And even though you had made but a small and weak beginning to
follow on and know the Lord, I should rejoice in the assurance that the
good work, having been begun, would be completed unto the end. And so I
close these letters with the same summing up of all advice, all
instruction, which more than four thousand years ago a prophet of God
gave to his reflections upon the vicissitudes of human life: "Let us
hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep his
commandments, for this is the whole duty of man."



A LITTLE SERMON TO SCHOOL-GIRLS.

    Be kindly affectioned one toward another with brotherly love, in
    honor preferring one another.

    --_Rom._ xii. 10.

    Whose adorning ... let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that
    which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet
    spirit which is in the sight of God of great price.

    --1 _Peter_, iii. 4.


Wherever people are associated together it will always be found that
some are more popular and beloved than others. Taking it for granted
that all my young readers would wish to be lovely and beloved by those
with whom they are associated, I wish to make a short study of some of
those characteristics which always distinguish a lovely or loveable
person, and also of some characteristics which tend to make people
unlovely and disagreeable.

But if anyone should at the outset say, "I do not care whether people
like me or not, I have no particular wish to be lovely or beloved," what
could I answer? Nothing. I could only express my sorrow that the better
and higher nature of such an one was so undeveloped, and that the
greatest source of true happiness was so unknown and unappreciated. I
could only hope that the conscience and the moral nature of such an one
might be aroused and quickened by some good and faithful admonition or
word of instruction. And right here I wish to call the special attention
of my young friends to this fact: Youth is a period given up largely to
the work of obtaining an education; but education is of a two-fold
nature. We have an intellectual nature and we have a spiritual or moral
nature. The intellectual powers and faculties it is possible to educate
almost in spite of even the distaste or aversion of the pupil to
receiving that education. We can, in a measure, force a knowledge of the
sciences upon even reluctant pupils. We can prove to them that three
angles of a triangle are equal to two right angles, or that an acid and
an alkali will combine to form a salt; but we can never force an
antagonistic nature to receive a spiritual truth. Your parents or
teacher may instruct you that it is wrong to be untruthful or unkind or
deceitful, but your own inner natures alone can receive such truths and
assimilate them. No human being can compel another human being to be
good. Here is where one of the chief anxieties and chief sorrows of
parents and teachers arises. There is no anxiety so deep as the anxiety
of the good that those they love may be good also; no sorrow so poignant
as the sorrow of the heart over the willful wrong-doing of those near
and dear. If at the close of your prescribed school course you should
return to your homes, skilled in all the sciences, possessed of
extensive knowledge of literature, fine musicians, fine artists, and yet
selfish, ungentle, proud or haughty in demeanor, wanting in
thoughtfulness for the rights and feelings of others, careless of being
unkind, the time spent in your education would largely have been spent
in vain.

Among the first characteristics of a person who is lovely and beloved,
we must place a kind and gentle manner toward all, kind words and kind
deeds, and a restraint of hasty speech or action. In order to possess
these qualities, it is not necessary ever to be obtrusive with our
attentions. Sometimes people pain us by thrusting upon us attentions
which we do not want. There is a kind of officious attentiveness which
is really the expression of a species of vanity. It is true we ought to
be observant, and if we see where we can really help others by offering
kind acts or services, we ought to be willing to do it. But to young
people associated together as schoolmates, the opportunity for
exercising gentleness and kindness towards one another comes mostly in
the line of daily work. Some pupils are more advanced in their studies
than others: some have had greater advantages in their homes than
others: and these differences afford an opportunity for exercising
toward each other a spirit of kindness and gentleness. It is one of the
most common occurrences in schools for pupils to come in who have not
had the advantages which enable them to know how to conduct themselves
gracefully in society; how to dress themselves; how to use knife, fork,
napkin, etc., properly at the table; and while it is of course the duty
of teachers to instruct them in all these things, it is also the
imperative duty of their companions to refrain from unkind criticism or
laughing at and making sport of blunders which may arise only from lack
of information. Very often these students are "jewels in the rough," of
the rarest and finest quality. You may have heard the story of Daniel
Webster, when he came in from his father's farm to enter upon his
collegiate course, and went to board with one of the professors who had
several students boarding in his family. Daniel had certainly never been
taught good manners at the table, however many other good things he had
been taught in his home, for he immediately attracted the attention of
all the other boarders by sitting with his knife and fork held upright
in each hand and resting on the table while he masticated his food. The
professor quelled the rising laughter among his fellow-students by a
firm glance of reproof, but said nothing to Daniel. He had observed
that the boy was sensitive, and he now had the problem before him how he
should correct this awkwardness in Daniel without wounding his feelings;
and he took the following method: Calling one of the senior boarders to
him before the next meal, he said: "We want to break our young friend of
his awkward way of holding his knife and fork, and we don't want to hurt
his feelings. Now I want you, at supper to-night, to hold your knife and
fork the same way, and then I will call your attention to it and tell
you it is not the right and proper way to do." The student agreed, and
so between the kind intention of the professor and the kind willingness
of the student the embryo statesman was taught an important lesson
without being pained and abashed by his ignorance.

In marked contrast with this incident is one which personally I knew to
happen in a school. A little country girl who had recently become an
inmate of the school knocked at the room of her neighbor, a young lady
who had been brought up amid all the refinements of life, and asked her
if she would lend her her hair-brush. Two or three other girls happened
to be in the room, and this young lady replied, "Hadn't you better ask
me for my tooth-brush? In this school, hair-brushes are private
property." Never did the little country girl forget this rude rebuke,
although she very shortly learned that among cultivated and refined
people hair-brushes are considered private property. But however
cultivated externally the young lady was who thus rudely rebuffed even
the ignorance of her companion, her conduct showed a spirit uncultivated
in gentleness and kindness.

It often happens in schools that some become general favorites because
perhaps they are blessed with good looks, or are able to dress with
good taste and becomingly, or are possessed of a certain piquancy of
manner and conversational powers which attract and entertain. There are
others equally good and talented who are not blessed with comeliness,
who are not bright and winning in conversation, who are awkward in dress
and manner. What kindness and considerateness is due from the more
favored to the less favored! How careful should school-girls, and not
school-girls only, but everybody be to extend courtesy and kindness to
those of their number who are apt to be neglected, to be left lonely and
forgotten while more favored ones enjoy special pleasures! I do not mean
by this that we are to be equally intimate and equally fond of all our
daily associates, but we ought to be equally kind. Our especial
endearments and kindnesses and attentions to our particular friends
ought to be in a measure kept for private expression, so that we may not
wound the feelings of those less attractive, or less endowed with bodily
and mental graces, by contrast or comparison.

To aid us in cultivating this spirit of kindness, no maxim is more
useful than that laid down by Christ: "Whatsoever ye would that others
should do unto you, do ye even so unto them." One of the best tests we
can apply to ourselves is to imagine ourselves in the place of others.
Suppose we were conscious of homely features, ungainly forms and awkward
manners, or of lack of information or knowledge; suppose we were in such
straitened circumstances that we were obliged to wear coarse, cheap,
unsuitable or unbecoming garments how would we feel and how would we
wish to be treated? And if we find within ourselves an unwillingness to
be judged by this standard, or to conform our conduct to it, then we
should realize that we do wrong, that we are wrong in spirit. Then
should come the conscious effort to do right, to change our spirit from
selfishness to unselfishness, from unkindness to kindness. This is the
work that no human being can do for us. Every individual soul must pass
through that struggle alone. Whenever we are conscious of the necessity
of a decision between doing right and doing wrong, even though we may
feel indisposed to do the right and disposed to do the wrong, yet if we
can _will_ to do the right we have taken a step toward God and heaven;
we have begun the unfolding of the moral and spiritual nature.

Now I have before said that an intellectual culture may be, so to speak,
veneered upon us, but a spiritual culture must come from within outward.
In botany you learn of two kinds of plants--those which grow by external
accretions, as bulbs, which, are called exogenous? and plants which
grow within outward, which are called endogenous A great philosopher has
said that "man is that noble endogenous plant which grows, like the
palm, from within outward." The culture of the heart and the growth of
the spiritual nature is wholly individual; it depends on ourselves
alone. Parents and teachers can furnish the surroundings and the
accessories which they hope will most help to nourish this spiritual
growth, but they can do no more. And often how bitterly are they
disappointed when they see that, in spite of admonition and instruction
and entreaty and example, and every external help and incentive, the
inner nature, the heart, the soul of child or pupil is not assimilating
spiritual truth, is not growing "in grace and in the nurture and
admonition of the Lord."

And now I pass from the consideration of that experience which is the
foundation of a lovely character to consider some of the forms of
outward expression of this inward character. I have said that we may
feel indisposed to do right; we may really prefer and like best the
wrong; nevertheless if we _will_ to do what is right we have gained a
victory. So it may be a great help to us in gaining this inward victory
to familiarize ourselves with rules for conduct or expression. Suppose,
for instance we know we are liable to give way to bad tempers and to
speak hastily and harshly. We may even feel that it is a relief to speak
thus hastily or harshly, but if we _will_ to control our tempers we may
find a great help in resolving never to speak in a loud or harsh tone of
voice. You all know that the scolding or quarreling tone of voice is
loud and harsh. If we resolve never to allow ourselves to use this tone,
it will help us to control our tempers, and it will also be an
obedience to one of the rules of good manners.

We call a well-mannered person a cultivated person; and this culture
consists mainly in kindness and gentleness of manner, in self-restraint,
and in unobtrusiveness The real reason for every true rule of good
manners is some moral reason. The true reason why we are forbidden by
good manners to do certain things is that the doing of such things gives
pain or causes inconvenience to some one. Why do the rules of good
manners forbid the slamming of doors, or noisy running along halls or up
and down stairs, or loud talking or boisterous laughter? Because such
noises inflict pain on those who hear them, if they are of refined
sensibilities. For the same reason it is bad manners to drum on a piano,
or to drum on table or desk or chair, or to shuffle the feet, or to make
any noise that distracts or obtrudes. Why is it bad manners to come
late to meals, to be unpunctual, to keep people waiting? Because we
inflict pain and inconvenience upon those who are in a certain measure
dependent for their comfort on our promptness and punctuality. Why is it
bad manners to sprawl in one's seat, to assume ungainly attitudes, to
make grimaces, or to munch peanuts or apples in the cars or in public
places? For the same reason. We make those who witness such conduct
uncomfortable, and inflict pain upon them.

One very common cause of discomfort and pain caused by young people to
their parents and teachers is want of thoughtfulness and consideration.
For one-half the faults for which young people need to be reproved the
reply is, "I didn't think." Now, while we cannot expect young folks to
exercise the thoughtfulness and judgment of maturer people, we certainly
have a right to expect that they will endeavor to acquire a habit of
thoughtfulness in regard to the convenience and interests of others. It
is this want of thoughtfulness that often betrays young people into
doing very improper and injurious things. Parents and teachers are
constantly troubled by finding that their children and pupils do things
which they never thought of forbidding them to do. That which all good
and faithful teachers strive to do is to develop in their pupils such a
sense of propriety and thoughtfulness and such a high moral sense as
will make them _a law for right unto themselves_. They want to cultivate
and to see them cultivating in themselves a strong practical
common-sense and a wise sense of propriety. Without such common-sense
and innate sense of propriety, the longest set of rules would be
useless. For instance, if your teachers were to set about making a set
of rules do you suppose any one of them would have thought of making
such rules as: "Young ladies are not permitted to go to the roof of the
house and sit with their feet dangling over the railings of the
balcony;" or "Young ladies must not go into people's pastures and catch
their ponies to go riding;" or "When young ladies are out riding in a
buggy it is not allowable for one of the young ladies to ride on the
horse which the others are driving."

A hundred rules might be gotten up forbidding the doing of a hundred
things, the only evil of which is that they are outlandish and
unbecoming; not modest, or ill-mannered, and behind which there is no
evil intent--only thoughtlessness. The same endowment of common sense
ought to teach young people to do those things which will promote their
health, and not to do those things which would injure it. The greatest
blessing to a young person, especially to a young woman, is good
health; but unless she will take care of it herself, it is an almost
hopeless task to attempt to take care of it for her. You may have heard
the somewhat slangy expression sometimes made about stupid and conceited
young men, that they "don't know enough to come in when it rains." It
is, however, an almost just complaint of many a pretty and otherwise
sensible young woman that she apparently doesn't know enough to put on
overshoes when it rains, or to change thin clothing for thick when it
grows cold. There is needed among young girls everywhere such a
development of common-sense as will prevent this senseless and
thoughtless conduct.

And now let us consider some of the rewards that will come to those who
give attention to the culture of the spirit. Emerson says that "it is
our manners that associate us," and this is one of his truest
observations. We all wish, or we all should wish, to become fitted for
association with the good, the refined, the intelligent, the cultivated,
with those who have a noble purpose in life. Into such society there is
but one passport--intelligence, and gentle, quiet, cultivated manners,
coupled with a like noble and earnest purpose. Possessed of these, any
person may be sure of a welcome in the best society, however plain in
appearance or dress. Wanting in these, good looks and fine dress are of
no avail to secure the coveted association. Remember I am now speaking
of the society of intellectual, refined, and cultivated people, and not
of mere fashionable society. But to gain friendly and equal access to
this best society, the culture of heart and mind must be genuine; it
must be thorough, deep, sincere. The young person whose education of
mind and heart is shallow and superficial, who has no definite aim in
life, may well fear to submit to the critical tests sure to be applied
by such society.

I cannot better illustrate my meaning than by relating to you two
incidents that have come under my own personal observation. You all know
that in our old Eastern cities, which have so long been the homes of
wealth and learning, is to be found a society almost unequalled for its
high standard of intellectual culture and refined manners as well as for
beneficent actions. Two young Western women whom I have known, aspired
to gain access to and meet with recognition in a certain famous circle
of such people in one of these Eastern cities. Both young women were
graduates of Western universities, and had had really exceptional
advantages for acquiring a thorough collegiate education. One had been
surrounded by every possible helpful condition. Fond parents, possessed
of abundance of this world's goods, and admiring friends, had done
everything in their power to secure for her freedom from all other cares
while she was pursuing her studies. Being thus helped and petted and
praised and encouraged she seemed to feel that all circumstances and
everybody's convenience and comfort must give way for her plans and
interests. The other young girl was the eldest daughter of a poor widow.
She struggled through the university by teaching in vacation; renting a
poor little room in the town where the university was situated, and
cooking her own food, doing her own washing and ironing, living in the
plainest way, wearing cheap clothing, and eating the plainest food,
while she was pursuing her studies. Her struggles with poverty and
bitter circumstances taught her sympathy and kindness and helpfulness;
and though she was plain, very plain, in face and figure, the gentle
kindness of her spirit was apparent to all. As time passed on after
their graduation, both of these young women gained the goal of their
hopes and ambitions: an introduction to this brilliant and cultivated
circle of people through certain literary clubs. And furthermore, both
secured an invitation to read a paper before the same literary society
during the same winter. The first-named young lady was visiting friends,
while the second had secured a position as teacher. When the first young
lady appeared before the society, her dress of velvet, point lace, and
diamonds, was so striking as to be obtrusive. Her paper was fairly good,
but contained nothing of any permanent value. Her self-consciousness and
evident desire to be conspicuous had the effect of repelling the earnest
and thoughtful men and women who composed the society. Her essay and
herself were alike quietly dropped; and to this day she cannot
understand why. She calls the members of the society proud, haughty, and
exclusive, and denounces the city where these people live as pedantic,
disagreeable, and unsocial. Before this same club came our quiet,
unostentatious, plain young friend of the toilsome life. Her dress was
as plain as her face, but her paper was rich in information and filled
with the results of a deep and earnest observation. Around her gathered
the good men and women who knew how to appreciate such a spirit, and
from thenceforward she was one of them. Every winter since the reading
of her first essay I have found her name among the list of those who are
leaders in the world of thought and of benevolent action. With pride in
the success, of a genuine Western girl, I have often observed her name
among the invited guests present at receptions given to distinguished
authors and philanthropists both of our own country and of Europe. Why
did she succeed against such odds, when the other failed with all her
advantages? Simply because she was possessed of the true, deep, thorough
genuine culture, both of mind and heart, which alone associates, the
best people together. To her, "plain living and high thinking" was a
life-long practice, and she was at home and happy with the good and the
learned.

Would you be prepared to attain a like reward? Cultivate her spirit;
imitate her example.



WE TWO ALONE IN EUROPE.

By MARY L. NINDE. Illustrated from Original Designs.

12MO., 348 PAGES. PRICE $1.50.


The foreign travels which gave rise to this volume were of a novel and
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BIOGRAPHIES OF MUSICIANS.

LIFE OF LISZT. With Portrait.
LIFE OF HAYDN. With Portrait.
LIFE OF MOZART. With Portrait.
LIFE OF WAGNER. With Portrait.
LIFE OF BEETHOVEN. With Portrait.

_from the German of Dr. Louis Nohl_

In cloth, per volume                $1.00
The same, in neat box, per set       5.00
In half calf, per set               12.50

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SHORT HISTORY OF FRANCE, FOR YOUNG PEOPLE, By Miss E.S. KIRKLAND,
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FAMILIAR TALKS ON ENGLISH LITERATURE. A Manual embracing the Great
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