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´╗┐Title: Hold Up Your Heads, Girls! Helps for Girls, in School and Out
Author: Ryder, Annie H.
Language: English
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Andrea Ball, Steve Schulze, Juliet Sutherland, Charles Franks and the Online




"'Handsome is that handsome does,--hold up your heads, girls!' was
the language of Primrose in the play when addressing her daughters."


To My Girls Everywhere.





When we make an object with our hands, we frequently notice that the
most care is needed as we near its completion. A false stroke of the
brush will change an angel into a demon, a misguided blow of the mallet
will shiver the statue into fragments: so, in the work which attempts
to form a noble womanhood, all the efforts of years of training will
be marred or rendered ineffectual, if the right influence, proper
occupation, and wholesome encouragement are not given to a girl in
the period which borders on womanhood. We wait for the rose to open;
but if we allow the atmosphere to become impure, or otherwise prevent
its development, its life will stagnate, it will refuse to give out
odor, and the world will lose that beauty it might have enjoyed.

Susceptible as girls are, vigorous, affectionate, cheerful and aspiring,
if they are deprived suddenly of good influence and encouragement,
the very conditions of their growth will be removed, and they, like
the rose, will shut their lives within their lives.

There is no time in a girl's life so neglected, and yet so dependent
upon sympathy, as that when she is first thrown upon her own efforts.
Too old to be any longer led, she is not old enough to be left without
guidance. This time usually comes when she has finished the ordinary
school course and finds herself, all at once, waiting, either for an
entrance into what is called society, or for an opportunity to earn
her living.

There is a certain lightness of heart, carelessness, _abandon_,
maybe, about girls while they are still in school, which is both
delightful and natural, however provoking to teachers. Every thing
is very bright now; and if the girl learns her lessons, is obedient,
and tries to think, she believes that somehow things will all come
around right with time. All at once she is confounded. She awakes in
the morning, and finds that school does not keep to-day,--no, nor
to-morrow! What is to be done? Going and coming, which get to be more
going and coming; dish-washing, which daily increases into dish-washing;
or _ennui_, which degenerates into melancholy, ensue. Life is not what
the school-girl supposed. Six months of it make her older than a whole

Girls look upon graduation day as a grand portal through which they
are to enter into a palace glistening with splendor; but, lo! when
they reach that portal, they see only a very low gate-way, while a
hedge, thorny and high, shuts out the palace. How to get through?
Rather, how are their elders to make them see that, with the patience
and energy of the prince in the story, they can cause the hedge to turn
to roses, and open wide before them?

A girl needs, first of all, encouragement. She should not be told what
things are to oppose her, if she has ambition to excel in a certain
direction, but what things are to help her to attain her purpose. She
wants praise, but not flattery. A girl knows when she is flattered
sooner than a boy. If conceit is engendered from praise, that will
do no harm. Time will destroy conceit, if a girl has much to do with
sensible people and sensible books.

A girl needs to be trusted. Nothing will be more efficacious than making
her feel of certain importance and usefulness to others. It is evident
she wants sympathy in her endeavors and disappointments. I do not mean
that she should be indulged, or that she should not be made to work
out her own salvation; but that she should realize that, if she tries,
some one will know and bless her, and if she stumbles, some one will
help her up again. Just as truly should she know that, if she is
careless of endeavor or negligent of her days, she will meet with
disparagement and punishment.

It is most necessary for a girl to have a motive placed before her,
that she may bring out whatever undeveloped faculties may be latent
within her. This motive may be a comparatively slight one,--no more
than the training of a window-garden, the collecting of newspaper slips,
or the making of bread; but, if she does her particular work better
than others, she will attain a certain degree of superiority, and her
time has, for her, been as profitably filled as that which another
person devotes to a larger work. By motive, let me repeat, I mean
something given a girl to do which shall be especially her work: not
always an ambitious one,--a desire to shine in society, letters, or the
arts,--but something just for herself, with its own rewards.

How much more numerous the motives which can be given an American girl
than one who lives on foreign soil! Look at the German girl, for
example. Her country arbitrarily divides its people into high and low.
The peasant maiden has so long stayed one side of the barrier, she
thinks she always must; so, with her scanty loaf of black bread near
her on the ground, she leans against a tree, knits her stocking, and
tends the flock. When night comes she goes home to her rude stone
cottage, lifts a prayer to the Virgin, if she is an Austrian, and one
for the king. Her mind never strays beyond the village gate. The more
fortunate girls in towns and cities receive the allotted years of study
in the schools, and when these end at fifteen, about the time of
confirmation, the girls are put into families away from home to get a
year's experience in domestic matters. Then they marry, and obediently
follow the commands of their husbands.

It may be thought that a society girl needs no incentives to a right
use of time and privileges, but she most certainly does. Her
responsibility is great: she will either sway a circle or a household.
Her influence will as surely affect her associates as did the influence
of those celebrated French women whose _salons_ were the places where
battles were fought and decisive moments gained. Society is in great
need of women: it always will be. Now this period of young womanhood is
precisely the time for cultivating those principles which will later be
most helpful to society.

Surely, for those who are to bear more heavily the weight of life,
who are to work as they wish not; in fact, in a way against which all
but principle struggles,--certainly, for these, there is every need
of motive. This class increases daily, and the discouragement and
distrust of its members grow with sad rapidity.

Girls, girls everywhere,--my girls,--do not think I mean to flatter
you! Do not think I mean to praise you more highly than I ought! I
simply want you to know your own capabilities, and to realize that
much, very much, depends upon every one of you. How much there is for
you to do! You are frank and honest now, or ought to be; you have not
learned to imitate the falseness of so-called proprieties. It is fully
possible to keep young, genuine, girlish even, and at the same time
to be womanly. The world is not sunshiny enough; there are too many
November days in the year: bring fairer weather and fresh June mornings.

You are not awkward, even if you have not learned just how to be
graceful; you are not useless, though you have not yet acquired all
the knowledge of the kitchen, laundry, and sewing-room; nor are you
unprofitable because you do not now earn the so many dollars a week
you will sometime gain. There is large hope of you, even when you forget
yourselves in the use of fashionable slang, because your minds and
hearts are open to receive kind warnings, and to learn to despise such
terms as mar the beauty of easy, delicate speech.

You want courage and physical strength outside of your lively
affections. You want wisdom and long training in the use of books.
You need to be occupied, to be active in brain and heart and hand;
busied even with more than the duties assigned you; occupied in times
of rest as well as in times of labor.

You should see more and feel no less. Indeed, the power of observation
is most cultivating and most easily developed.

You ought to be more familiar with Nature,--the sky, and trees, and
fields; not always to have a scientific knowledge of it, but a certain
familiarity, so that you may ever be surrounded by a glorious company
of friends. You need to know the value of literature, and to adorn
yourselves with the graces of conversation.

Those qualities which contribute most to womanhood and character you
should be most eager to make your own.

May I talk with you about such subjects as may suggest ways of educating
your minds, of benefiting your bodies, and of helping, in some little
measure, towards that growth of soul which should be the aim of all



I saw a group of girls the other day bidding one another good-by after
a year together at boarding-school. It was the merriest, most sparkling,
set of people!--girls in every sense!--bobbing about, kissing, tuning
their voices in all sorts of keys, with apparently not one care nor
the shadow of an unpleasant memory! How I longed to get right in among
them, and be hugged with the rest! though the hugging came along with
armfuls of umbrellas, bags, hats, rackets, and whatever else would
not go into the last inch of trunk. Pretty dresses, jaunty hats, tidy
gloves and boots they wore; but better than these were their bright,
honest faces, and the hearty words they spoke, Cheerfulness seemed
to gush out in the wildest hilarity. How they talked with their tongues,
and their eyes, and their hands! Enthusiasm sent their words racing
after each other into sentences which had no beginning and no end.

Though you might never guess it, from the confusion of their language,
these girls were practising some of the first principles in the art
of conversation, without, indeed, being conscious of it. They were
sincere and in earnest.

A girl is born to be a readier talker than a boy. She is usually less
positive; and, as she has more animation, more spontaneity, more
feeling, she talks much more. But somehow these natural gifts for
talking are not cultivated by her as they should be: sometimes they
are wholly disregarded. In a few years those very girls, who talked
so fluently and engrossingly, will be sitting in corners trying to
patch sentences together into what is called conversation.

Now, my dear girls, the importance of this art of talking is so great
that. I should almost say any other art you may acquire cannot be
compared with it; in fact, it is something so necessary to us that
persons who are lacking in it stand in great danger of being
metaphorically swallowed by the words of such individuals as know the
cunning uses of language. Loosen some persons' tongues, and, no matter
what sacrifices of character, of friendship, of good training, they
have to make, they will reach the goal of their endeavor, and drive
every one else into a corner. The power of eloquence and persuasion
is mightier than any two-edged sword, and cuts down enemies like the
sickle before the harvest. Go never so determined to remain unconvinced
by certain talkers, and, before their eloquence ceases, you are enemies
to yourselves, and wonder you never thought their way before.

Do not let me misguide you, however. Though you may be deceived by
words, finding yourselves utterly incapable of replying to argument,
still the joys you receive from the talks of certain well-minded persons
are far greater than any danger I have implied.

What is it which makes some persons using very simple words say them
so they drop like manna into hungry minds and hearts, or electrify
with grand ideas and moving suggestions? Some will answer that it is
brightness of intellect, and a keenness of insight added to profound
thoughtfulness. I believe this in a large measure, though, if it were
always true, we should oftener be able to understand certain
full-mouthed speakers, deep thinkers, and philosophers. They do any
thing but electrify, and suggest little more than sleep and weariness.
Others will reply that successful talking is the effect of personal
magnetism. That may be true to a slight degree. When certain strangers
enter the room, we sometimes realize at once that it will be extremely
difficult to say any more than yes or no to them; while others,
previously unknown to us, may come in and draw out thoughts from us in
rapid succession,--thoughts we hardly knew we were capable of
expressing. But I would define a large part of the personal magnetism
used in talking as an honest compound of heartiness, thoughtfulness, and

Conversation does not demand that we should always be vivacious,
sparkling, witty, fanciful, or even that we should use beautiful
language; but good talk does ask for heart and interest. Put your heart
into what you have to say: put your interest into it, and your
conscience will be awakened, your zeal will be aroused; then you will
compel attention, and set others thinking also. De Quincy writes, "From
the heart, from an interest of love or hatred, of hope or care, springs
all permanent eloquence; and the elastic spring of conversation is
gone if the talker is a mere showy man of talent, pulling at an oar
which he detests."

These things being true, it seems to me that character is the first
requirement in the art of conversation. I take it for granted that
every girl can, with perseverance, acquire a fluent use of words; for
this depends mainly on practice: so I shall try to indicate those
qualities which lie back of the words, and which give life to them. Even
the nature of a talk will have its source in character, and to character
it will return. Whatever chance or circumstance brings about a
conversation, it will generally lead to such expressions of ideas as
will show the dispositions of the conversers.

Just here, girls, let me remark, that, if by any slang or catch words
you thoughtlessly express yourselves, the danger is, your character
will be misunderstood, and your pure hearts but merry minds will be
censured for what is not in them. Depend upon it, your own personality
will be inferred from what you say, hence the value of utter sincerity
in what you talk.

Naturally, we are led to think about courtesy and good manners as
requirements in the art of talking. Have you not met certain men and
women who, when they opened their mouths to speak to you, conferred
a favor on you? and, when they spoke, have you not felt the benediction
descending on your heads? I have. They were not always scholars, nor
were they great people, nor rich people, but _mannered_ people. Such
persons used their words as if they expected words from you, for
which they would be grateful. They did not monopolize conversation,
neither did they frequently interrupt; but when they had a suggestion
to offer, opportunity being afforded, they spoke honestly, though
politely, their good sound thoughts,--ideas which frequently destroyed
the evil of gossip or impatiently uttered remarks.

Conversation does not depend upon rapidity of speech, as certain
impulsive persons seem to think. I acknowledge that much of the
interruption in conversation, and much of the monopoly, and a large
number of the quick, almost angry words, result from eagerness rather
than conceit or selfishness. If one cannot be animated without rapid
speech, let him talk fast. It is a bad practice, however, even in the
ablest talkers.

One can have opinions, and yet not use them to knock down one's
opponents who have had no chance to arm against one. Do not be
ungenerous, girls, selfish, in talking. Allow that some one else may
have ideas as good as yours. George Eliot says, in "Daniel Deronda,"
"I cannot bear people to keep their minds bottled up for the sake of
letting them off with a pop." That is not conversation: it is a selfish
display of a few treasured maxims or witticisms or opinions.

If courtesy, deference, patience, and generosity are needed to talk
well, then certainly sympathy is necessary. A woman who has no
comfortable word for her sister woman had better talk to the wall.
But I need not reproach girls for lack of sympathy, nor for lack of
interest in the girls they meet. Their confidence in new friends is
so absolute; their desire to receive sympathy, as well as to give it,
is so great, that they frequently impart their whole lists of secrets
to the bosoms of others whom they have not known a month. Now a more
careful use of sympathy and confidence will induce not only good manners
but good talk. It will tell you how to avoid such subjects as would
give rise to unpleasant, even quarrelsome, talk. It will show you when
you have talked too long with one person in a mixed company, and when
you are wounding the feelings of another by paying no regard to her.

Impartial treatment of those we meet in society is certainly very
charming. We say it is a great accomplishment to be able to speak a
pleasant word to the neighbor on the right, and a different, though
equally expressive, one to the friend on the left. Mary likes books,
Sallie prefers society, Ruth enjoys housekeeping, Margaret is fond
of music. Then why not ask Mary if she has noticed the beautiful
woodcuts in the last Harper's, or seen the new edition of Hawthorne?
Why not inquire of Sallie about the last matinee and the last hop?
Why not ask Ruth how she made those delicious rolls, and how she
prepared the coffee, or how she manages to make her room look so
cheerful and cosey? And why not make Margaret give you her
opinion of Wagner or of Beethoven?

I cannot dwell too long on the necessity of that adaptability to others
which a kind and sympathetic heart will always strive for in
conversation. Suppose you do not know the group amidst which you are
seated in a drawing-room, and it is expected you will all become
acquainted? Well, if it must be, say something to Miss Brown about
yesterday's storm or today's sunshine; something to Miss Eliot about
the kindness of your hostess, who is entertaining her friends in her
usual hospitable manner, with a word to each just suited to the
individual addressed; and something to Mrs. Hammerton about the pleasant
surroundings,--a picture near you, a book, a vase of exquisite form.

But suppose you are to talk with a gentleman? Why, begin with just
such remarks as you would use to a sensible girl; and, if he does not
seem to care for them, turn his attention to the world of his own
affairs,--to the street and the office. A man often takes pleasure
in giving information about matters of great public interest of which
so many girls are ignorant. After you have passed a few remarks about
the last election, or the new town-hall, you will probably find out
what he prefers to discuss, and then you can easily entertain him,
and be entertained in return. I think that most men are quite as fond
of general topics in conversation as women are; and I fail to see the
necessity of introducing different subjects for gentlemen than for
ladies,--I mean when both young men and young women appreciate what
it is to be gentlemen and ladies.

Girls, why do so many of you indulge in so much smaller talk with men
than with women? Because it is expected of you? Only by a few, and
they make themselves very absurd by always trying to say nonsensical
things to you. Men of this sort appear to have an impression that you
are still children amused with a Jack-in-the-box which springs up in
a very conceited hobgoblin way. Everybody likes a joke, and at times
feels a childlike pleasure in speaking nonsense; but, believe me, sense
is much more attractive in conversation.

Discretion in conversation really implies a peculiar tact of woman,
a kind of cleverness, not so frequently found in men, and very seldom
met with in boys. When a woman sees her guests are led by a monopolizer
along unsafe channels of thought, she can easily, by that happy faculty
of hers, bring them back again where all will run smoothly. She can
change the subject by some little remark irrelevant to it. Perhaps
adaptability comes from discretion. When you are talking with
Englishmen,--well, do not talk quite as Englishmen do, though they
may be perfectly sincere; but talk as Americans talk. Say _a_
the way they do in Boston, or wherever else you may belong: stick to
your own town's forms of speech so long as they are reasonable. Above
all things, do not ape the peculiar pronunciations of certain
individuals. Affectation, imitation in talk, is ruinous. Be yourselves!
Girls and boys are not themselves as much as they ought to be.

Being honest, still adapt yourselves to new people as you would to
new scenes: talk with the Englishman on such subjects as he prefers.
When you are speaking with honest country people about the beauty of
their fields, do not talk about "Flora spreading her fragrant mantle
on the superficies of the earth, and bespangling the verdant grass
with her beauteous adornments." Use baby talk to babies; kind and simple
words to the aged; a good, round, cheerful word to the girls, almost
slang,--though no, not quite that! Make the grocer feel you have an
interest in groceries; the seamstress an interest in sewing, as of
course you have; and the doctor an interest in sickness. In fact, make
each one with whom you come in contact realize that you care for him
and what he specially does. Just put yourselves into the places of
others, and the words will take care of themselves.

The intellect is not such a supreme factor in conversation as the points
of character I have so far named. Mr. Mathews, in his "Great
Conversers," writes, "The character has as much to do with the
colloquial power as has the intellect; the temperament, feelings, and
animal spirits even more, perhaps, than the mental gifts." I add this
remark from De Quincy: "More will be done for the benefit of
conversation by the simple magic of good manners (that is, chiefly
by a system of forbearance) applied to the besetting vices of social
intercourse than ever _was_ or _can_ be done by all varieties of
intellectual power assembled upon the same arena."

But there are certain things the mind must do in connection with the
disposition. Concentrating the thoughts is one of these things,--very
hard for young or old to acquire. Persons resort to very queer methods
to obtain it,--some scratch their heads, others rub their chins. I
have seen a public speaker try to wreak thoughts out of a watch-chain.
Another jerked at the rear pockets of his swallow-tailed coat to pick
out a thought there. You know the story Walter Scott tells about the
head boy? He always fumbled over a particular button when he recited;
so, one day, the button being furtively removed by Walter, the boy
became abstracted, and Scott passed above him. Madame De Stael, as
she talked, twisted a bit of paper, or rolled a leaf between her
fingers. (Some have attributed this to her vanity, as she had very
beautiful hands.) I believe friends came to note her necessity, and
supplied her with leaves. Well, do what you will that is harmless, if it
but serve to pin your attention right down to the matter before you.

The great conversers of literature are wrongly called so. Set topics
do not often lead to genuine conversation, and those who occupy the
time by delivering their ideas on given subjects are really lecturers.
Johnson as well as Coleridge talked right on while all the rest sat
and listened.

Conversation that is real implies give and take. We do not talk to
illuminate the minds of others only, but to get their ideas also. And,
don't you see, we never quite know what our own thoughts are till we
come to try to make them clear to others? "Intercourse is, after all,
man's best teacher. 'Know thyself is an excellent maxim; but even self-
knowledge cannot be perfected in closets and cloisters." [Footnote:
Mathews.] Three or four expressing ideas on the same subject give one
a larger range of thoughts, make one more liberal and less obstinate.

If you care for a girl's opinion because it is just like yours, maybe
it is her sympathy you are after and not her opinion. An interchange
of ideas sometimes leads to discussion, and that is admirable for the
growth of mind, provided it does not degenerate into dispute.

It is not necessary that conversation should roll around a given point.
I think that is the most entertaining, restful, and real talk which
is the most roving. You may begin in Portland and end in San Francisco.
You may start talking about preserving peaches, and halt on the latest
sensation. It is often very amusing to trace the line of such converse:
it moves in a zigzag course, and terminates many miles out of the
original direction. By this discursiveness I do not mean gossip. Of
course talk of that kind has no good part in conversation: it is the
slave of ignorance and bad character. I might, however, differ from
some as to what gossip is,--whether there may not be certain kinds
of talk miscalled gossip. I am quite sure that criticising the
misfortunes of others, and watching a chance for dilating upon their
lot, with your neighbors on the next doorstep, would come under the head
of worse than gossip. It might be well to distinguish between gossip and
scandal: the one is goodness adulterated; the other is evil unmixed.

Good conversation is the mark of highest culture. That is why, in spite
of shabby dresses, unbanged hair, tremendous mouths, and large noses,
some persons are purely delightful. We have seen that this is so, yet
have not added that something lies in the voice as well as in the
manners and words of such people. From nervousness, and other causes
which I have not been able to trace, girls are apt to pitch their voices
too high, as though they thought to be better able to speak distinctly.
A gruff, mannish voice is worse than a piping, shrill tone in a woman;
but fulness of tone prevents no melody, and this comes from a medium
pitch. In the very modulations of the voice are detected excellence
and refinement. The human voice, in its sounds and accents, is a record
of character: trust it as the key-board of the human being.

May I remind you here, girls, of the harm arising from loud talk in
public places? How many times do we suffer annoyance from the noisy
voice in the car, the station, or on the street! How bold and immodest
such tones are! Some persons seem to think the public is not to be
regarded, and that it has no right to criticism. They appear to believe
that a train is no different than an open field, where the voice needs
no restraint, and where manners are not the most refined. They treat
the passengers with as little care as they do the cars; for, while
they make a waste-basket of the latter, they regard the former as so
many brazen images to be stared at _ad libitum_. Passengers have
ears, though they themselves be removed from the talkers by the distance
of a seat or two.

Now about the words you use, girls. I fully realize the expressiveness
of slang and the convenience of exaggeration. But if a peach pie is
almost "divine," and the Hudson River "awfully lovely," what can be
said of the New Testament and Niagara Falls? What is to become of the
poor innocent words in the English language which mean only delicious
and beautiful? By a girl's words know her; but, oh! never by the slang
she uses. This use of slang is really a serious matter. Honest words
are so misconstrued, and propriety in the employment of them so
injured,--phrases are capable of so many interpretations,--that even
serious people use slang in a very pathetic way without ever knowing the
words are slang. Girls not only hurt themselves, but go to work to
defame the very English language and the people who speak English.

When a young woman, who makes much pretension to fine manners and an
elegant education, takes the steam-car for a rostrum, and exclaims
about her French teacher as "awfully funny but awfully horrid, don't
you know; awfully lovely sometimes, but awfully awful at others!" we
wonder why she gives so much attention to French when her English
vocabulary seems to have reduced itself to the scanty proportions of
one word. Oh, I know how pertinent certain kinds of slang are! I
acknowledge that a few peculiar expressions convey ideas more
emphatically than whole pages of classical English.

The dangers from the habitual use of slang cannot be too strongly
presented. Imagine a girl of the period versed in the loose expressions
of the day. She goes away; but, after an absence of five years in a
country where she hears little except in a foreign tongue, she returns,
and with her comes her slang. How common, how witless, her talk appears!
Her slang has long since gone out of fashion. The best of English never
changes its style.

Girls, especially very young girls, must have their secret signs, their
language of nods and becks and shrugs; but young ladies who have
outgrown "eni, meni, moni, mi; husca, lina, bona, stri," ought to
outgrow signs which are suggestive of coarse, rude acts, and which,
with the slang expressions that accompany them, have often originated
in some theatre of questionable character.

The responsibility rests with you, girls, to stop this increasing use
of slang, and of words of double meaning. I say you can prevent it
because you are so much regarded. Your influence is wide, wider than
you suppose. If you do not cease speaking slang, your younger sisters
will not, your friends and acquaintances may not. More than this: if
you use coarse words, or those which may be interpreted in various
ways, then coarse manners will soon follow coarse tones, and a general
swaggering and lawlessness. My dear girls, I am only prophesying what
will be if no prevention is employed. Surely you will give no cause
for censure, if you seriously think about this matter.

It is a part of youthful exuberance to exaggerate. Children always
want a thing as long as "from here to Jerusalem," and stretch their
tiny arms out till they nearly fall backwards, trying to make an inch
as long as a mile. But, _cave canem_! the fault of exaggerating
once powerful over you, not only the bounds of the English language
are leapt, but truth is unconsciously set at nought. We always allow
for the words of some persons, for with them a scratch is a wound;
a wind, a hurricane; one dollar, a thousand; and all they do in life,
a big, big bluster. The only way to bring back English to a state of
purity--for it has been outraged by slang, imitation, technical
expressions, a straining after long words, and a regular system of
exaggeration--is to speak simple words, using all necessary force and
emphasis in the voice instead of in the number of syllables, saying
what you mean by just the words that will convey the meaning. Of course
the dictionary must be frequently used. There is no help so sure as
that which it affords to one who would use language properly.

Do not be troubled if you hesitate in conversation, and cannot
immediately find the proper word. Search in your mind till you get
the expression, then next time it will come more rapidly. One of the
best ways to increase fluency of speech is to avoid repetition of words
as much as possible. Turn the name of an object or of an idea into
a phrase, or substitute a synonym, and in this way you add variety
and words to your vocabulary. Do not use foreign words when English
will do as well. There are times when it will not, though it is a very
copious language. Never think English inferior. Hear its music in
Tennyson and Longfellow, De Quincey and Ruskin. See its beauty in the
pages of Hawthorne and Irving. Do not use technical terms with those
unacquainted with science or art. It shows a lack of good sense.

I want once more to insist on the value of good conversation, more
particularly because of its suggestiveness. I believe there are few
things really great and good which have not this power of suggestion.
The picture is not wonderful that can be appreciated at a glance, the
book is not remarkable which will not bear a second reading, music
is not good unless it awakes harmonies, a thought is not valuable unless
it suggests another thought.

The graces of conversation none can wear as well as woman. They are
most becoming to you, my dear girls,--even brighter and richer and
dearer than any jewels with which you may adorn yourselves. They consist
mostly of pleasant, well-chosen words, sympathetic, hearty tones,
sprightliness, and certain winsome modulations of voice.

When every other accomplishment fails to entertain, there is always
left the resource of good talk, pleasing to old and young. We cannot
sit at Luther's table, and hear him utter life-giving words, "If a
man could make a single rose, we should give him an empire; yet roses,
and flowers no less beautiful, are scattered in profusion over the
world, and no one regards them." We cannot listen to Coleridge, "with
his head among the clouds." We, alas! cannot even catch the energetic
flash of Margaret Fuller's words. But every one of us can improve her
conversation by persevering effort in the ways indicated, and can listen
still to the best of talk.

Somewhere Emerson writes, "Wise, cultivated, genial conversation is
the last flower of civilization, and the best result which life has
to offer us,--a cup for the gods, which has no repentance."



My dear girls, I want to talk to you to-day about one of your very
best friends,--one so altogether lovely, from first to last, that we
can never exhaust her attractions.

Nature is, indeed, among the most loving and constant friends a girl
can have, and not by any means the imaginary acquaintance so many
suppose she is. She lives and breathes, and has a form and spirit. Are
you looking about to see where she is? No need of that. Come right here,
and sit down beside me under this great pine-tree. How strong and
comfortable its back feels against yours! Do you see all those soft
green points looking down on you while the tasselled branches gently
sway? Just look at the deep blue patches of sky away up and up among
the green arches. How cool and smooth and restful! how unending the
color is in which the leaves lie! How hardy and brave the branches
look! See the lines of beauty in them,--long, aspiring, slightly curving
lines,--which meet and terminate in cathedral spires. What grace in
the motion of every spray of greenness! what a healing odor in the
breath of the tree! And, hark! a little breeze has touched it, and
tuned its language into a plaintive song,--a sound like the surf washing
upon a distant shore. Do you know why the pine is so sad a tree? Let
me tell you her story. No; she will sing it herself, if you will listen
to the nocturn: "Long, long ago I had my home on an island of the ocean,
and my branches swayed and sang to the waves that kissed my feet with
the fondness of a betrothed lover. The winds were envious of our sweet
union, and blew away from me the germs of life. My seeds sprang up
again, but on foreign soil; and the new trees, my offspring, are the
same in form and color, but their souls are all sad from my recounted
memories of departed joy." When the slightest breeze comes near, and
ventures to softly touch the branches, a sound like sobbing follows;
but when, with rougher grasp, the east wind approaches, a wailing like
the utterances of a storm-tossed sea is heard. Listen! do you not
hear it now? It is the imprisoned spirit of the pine, longing for the
waves, moaning out a vain desire for the embrace of the sea.

How am I sure the tree is alive and friendly? Doesn't it bow to you
when you pass, and curve and sweep before you? Doesn't it offer you
rest and refreshment in its shade? Doesn't it entertain you by showing
you beautiful pictures and forms, and doesn't it furnish you with music?
See what an instructor it is! Away up there among the branches are
lessons involving the very first principles of architecture, sculpture,
and painting,--signs that show the laws of harmony and hint at morality
itself. Its trunk and limbs look honest and courageous, firm and trusty,
while all its lofty, tapering height points Godward.

It is your confidant; and the more you tell it, the more you will find
to say. While it is very modest and retiring, requiring time to get
acquainted with you, still, the more it talks to you, the more you
will want to hear. The pine is your school-master, and you are the
royal pupil,--Roger Ascham and Queen Elizabeth. It is no longer an
ordinary tree, but something born with a spirit in it; and it has
birthdays. Thoreau, the man who loved Nature so much that the birds
and the fishes took care of him and were never afraid of their master,
used to visit certain trees on certain days in the year. The pine has
a birthday worth celebrating in December, the maple in October, and
the birch in May. You think this is all fancy, and believe persons
must be very imaginative to find such friends in Nature? Oh, no; along
with fancy Nature tucks very real things into our thoughts about her.
You only need an introduction to her, and you will see for yourselves.
The most practical among you will find that even fancy is a most useful
quality, because it leads men to think out great truths.

Some of the most remarkable ideas in literature, philosophy, science,
and, religion have come from just this snug little acquaintance with
Nature. Probably the most original poet in the last hundred years was
Wordsworth. However much he lacked in some respects, he has done most
towards shaping the minds of other poets, and towards advancing new
and beautiful theories. His honest ideas, his simple truths, were told
him by the field-flowers--the celandine and daisy and daffodil--as
well as by the common trees and the common sky. I suppose most of the
principles of natural philosophy, and of many of the sciences, must
have been derived from an acquaintance with Nature in her ordinary
aspects. Oh, do not think it necessary to behold Nature in her great
stretches of sublimity in order to appreciate her. You will come to
know her far more easily, and much more helpfully, in a little woodside
walk, or right here underneath these branches, than you will in Niagara
Falls, or in looking at her in the great ocean. She comes down more
to the level of your understanding here in this meadow. Comes down
to your comprehension? Yes; I mean that, and yet I would not for a
moment imply that in her most commonplace guise you can exhaust her
beauty. Do you know what Mr. Ruskin says about such an apparently
insignificant thing as a blade of grass? "Gather a single blade of
grass, and examine for a minute, quietly, its narrow, sword-shaped
strip of fluted green. Nothing it seems there, of notable goodness
or beauty. A very little strength and a very little tallness, and a
few delicate long lines meeting in a point.... And yet, think of it
well, and judge whether of all the gorgeous flowers that beam in summer
air, and of all strong and goodly trees, pleasant to the eyes and good
for food,--stately palm and pine, strong ash and oak, scented citron,
burdened vine,--there be any so deeply loved, by God so highly graced,
as that narrow point of feeble green."

But _how_ to get acquainted with Nature is the question. By
observation,--by simply opening your eyes and seeing. If no one yet
knows all about a blade of grass, surely no one has so far beheld all
the beauty there is in a single sun-rise. You cannot see every thing
at a glance. When you first let your eyes rest upon the horizon, you
may see only a piece of sky in the east: not very remarkable, you think,
except that here and there are things that look like streaks of red
and yellow. Later, you find something unobserved before,--clouds shaped
like islands and balanced in mid-air, or lying like rafts which float
along the edge of the sky. Then the color seems to deepen, and to spread
out in great bars of light which lift and remove the remnants of the
night. They are floating barges,--gondolas richly decked with crimson
and gold, and burning with jewels of light. A coolness seems to come
in the air, an exhilaration in your feeling. Energy, enterprise, are
inspired with the dawn. When the sun is really up in the heavens, you
feel an expansion of spirits, and great light is within you. You, too,
will make a path through the day, as the sun makes his path through
the heavens. By and by you will be able to say with the bardic
philosopher, "I see the spectacle of morning from the hill-top over
against my house from daybreak to sunrise, with emotions which an angel
might share ... I seem to partake its rapid transformations. The active
enchantment reaches my dust, and I dilate and conspire with the morning
wind ... Give me health and a day, and I will make the pomp of emperors
ridiculous." And, at length, you will rise above the earthly, and
exclaim with the psalmist, "Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye
lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in."

Observe the humblest flower that grows, and first you may notice only
its color, or form, or fragrance. Look again, and some added beauty
appears. Observe more closely, handle it, and you are made a little
thoughtful, because, all unconsciously to yourself, it may be, the
flower is doing something to your mind and heart and soul. Perhaps
its velvety softness and its lowliness speak to you of humility and
gentleness; or perhaps its fragrance breathes sweetness into your life
and feeling,--only a little, to be sure, but that little means
something. The spirit of the flower speaks to your spirit; and you
wonder what relation it bears to you, and if you are not both connected
with the spirit of God.

There is something more than sentiment in attributing character to
flowers, something better than fancy in saying, "Pansies for thoughts."
Growing things all mean real things; so do the stones in the stone-wall,
and the gravel on the road, and the very breeze that blows in our
faces,--all and each have a significance which does not at once meet
the outward eye.

It would be very delightful, and certainly very useful, if, besides
this friendliness in Nature, you could learn some of the special values
of Nature, as shown by science. A botanist has fuller joy in flowers
and ferns and grasses than a mere observer of them, and a geologist
has more pleasure in rocks than he who remarks them for their beauty's
sake. Still, this friendship and this general observation had to come
before the scientific knowledge was possible. I have great sympathy
for those who, while ignorant of technicalities, love objects for just
simply the things themselves.

When you begin to get acquainted with the externals of Nature, then,
of course, you will ask how they are made; and the lessons of science
will attract you. Looking at the smoothness of the rounded stones,
you will be led to examine their ancient homes beneath the waves;
noticing the long straight lines on the rocks, you will wander back to
the period when ice covered the land, and the earth was wrapped in
chaotic gloom. Observe, only observe! and curiosity will press for you
the very secrets out of the woods, the streams, the skies. Look around
you! There is such an infinite number of objects to consider right about
your own porch-door,--the lichens on the door-stone, the apple-tree
shading the path, the striped pebble that you kick aside, the plant
pressing up between the boards, the dew shimmering on the weed.
Investigate all your surroundings, especially the small, neglected
places, and try to have an opinion about what you observe. A busy man, a
merchant, noticed, some time ago, a thistle growing by the wayside. He
was journeying in the steam-cars at the time; and, although the next
stopping-place was somewhat far, he walked back to find the strange
flower. The prize he gained was a rare plant, a beautiful thistle of
which he had only heard before.

Oh, Nature is so modest! But once set her talking, she will forget
your presence, and babble like the brook. How much she has told the
poets, and the men of science! How much she will tell you, too, if
you but heed her!

Ah, girls, what slight attention we have, in reality, shown to Nature!
We treat her more like a servant than a friend and companion. The desire
for excitement has turned our minds to vainer subjects. The struggles
which our elders have made for money and position have deprived them
of chances for regarding natural objects. However deplorable this may
be, it is a still more lamentable fact, that you, dear girls, give
so little heed to Nature,--you who have time and to spare. It lies
with you to cultivate this love for the natural world, that future
generations may be more mindful of it.

When we refuse the gladness that Nature offers us, we dismiss a large
share of the happiness God intended for us. I ought to be a little
more lenient in my criticism on the lack of appreciating Nature,
perhaps; for not a few of us may find lingering in our minds some
autumnal glory which lights up our memories with colors of crimson and
gold. We should remember, however, that not only the glow of autumn and
the flush of summer are beautiful, but that every season, every climate,
every aspect in the shifting panorama of Nature, has a beauty as real.
Our own region, be it arid with parching suns, or wet with frequent
rains; be it always winter there, or always summer, is full of beauty.
There is sunset on the desert, moonrise on mid-ocean, gorgeous coloring
and crowding life in the tropics, dazzling starlight over ice-bound
lands. Neither is one day so much better than another for beholding
Nature. Yesterday we let the mild sunshine redden the blood beneath the
skin; to-day we are drawn from our study of the perfect harmony of grays
in the clouds and trees to watch, within the house, the bright light
which gleams from the coals,--Nature brought up out of the earth.

Regard even one day of our worst weather, as we say,--worst for our
health or convenience we must always mean. Think of a bleak and sleety
March day. As the storm whirls against the house with strong blasts
of rain and snow, our excitement increases by watching the swaying
trees, and by listening to the shaking windows, while the lawless winds
howl and rage around the corner. When the winds settle from
boisterousness into low complaints, and now and then fall into quiet
utterances, musical murmurings, the rain pauses, the sky softens, and
our minds grow calm and gentle. But when, again, the clouds gather
darkness, and make strength for a new onslaught, we become sober with
fear and doubt. Tell me, if, as we view these changes, and hear these
stirring or weird sounds, we do not indeed behold battle scenes, and
listen to music from which even Wagner might have learned.

But the storm is the exceptional aspect, and we ought to care more
for ordinary views. Winter is common enough, but it has its perfections.
Its colors, though less gorgeous than those of autumn, are the most
restful and quiet in their tone and feeling. Those grays and browns,
huddling together in silent lines side by side, are full of peaceful
beauty as they rest upon the white snow or up against uncertain skies.
I like a gray atmosphere relieved by silver birches, just enough
sombreness set off by cheerfulness. It is wisdom and patience ornamented
with gray locks.

Spring, early spring, in New England, we call more disagreeable than
winter. Ah, but it is the budding time! When you meet spring, before
the trees come out in full dress, when all that fluttering, fluffy
greenness, and that crimson flowering etch, with innumerable branchlets,
the embroidery of Nature against the sky, you meet, even though the
east sea winds blow, a season incomparable.

An opportunity for getting acquainted with Nature is never wanting.
If men should cut down all the forest trees, as they now threaten,
they could not "cut the clouds out of the sky," as Thoreau affirms.
A roof light in a garret, even, gives the eye visions dazzlingly
beautiful over beyond all the chimney pots, if the eye only looks. We
would go far to see on canvas the lake, the river, the wood that borders
our heritage; and yet we rarely heed their living charms that daily
offer us new pleasures. We cross the ocean to visit great churches, and
we throng to hear an organ played by a master musician; while in yonder
forest we may enter a cathedral, loftier and grander far than art can
form, through whose densely branching arches and solemn aisles sweeps
the music of the winds from the organ pipes of the pines.

Nature, in most of her aspects, will give us small chance for censuring
her scant attractions. A field of grass and flowers, sunshine and
chirping birds, the clinging, changing foliage, or the shimmer of snow
and ice, the light of moon and stars, are in some of her commonest
pictures. We are simply to give heed. As Carlyle suggests, it is not
because we have such superior levity that we pay no attention to Nature.
By not thinking, we simply cease to wonder, that is all.

Oh, get acquainted with Nature, my girls, and see how lovely the world
will become! Do you know that beautiful sketch by Charles Kingsley
called "My Winter Garden"? Read it, and see how he gets the world out
of a small space,--how he becomes rich. You know no man can buy a
landscape,--it belongs to all. We are, every one, rich in summer skies,
in fair forests, in great tracts of meadow verdure. See how Kingsley
grows contented,--how he becomes wise. "Have you eyes to see? Then
lie down on the grass, and look near enough to see something more of
what is to be seen; and you will find tropic jungles in every square
foot of turf; mountain cliffs and debacles at the mouth of every rabbit
burrow; dark strids, tremendous cataracts, 'deep glooms and sudden
glories' in every foot-broad rill which wanders through the turf....
Nature, as every one will tell you who has seen dissected an insect
under the microscope, is as grand and graceful in her smallest as in
her largest forms."

We are told there is something most practical in physiology. One of
its first requirements is proper exercise for the body. Now, no exercise
combines so many advantages as walking: by no other means can we come
so easily to an acquaintance with Nature. Never ride in the country,
or anywhere within Nature's dearest precincts, when you can as well
go on foot. You cannot see things flying by you. Do not adopt the custom
of most pedestrians, that of getting over the ground as rapidly as
possible. Take daily walks, no matter what the weather is; but do not
go too far. Irregularity in this exercise is harmful. It is far better
to walk two miles daily than ten miles at one time, and fifteen a week
hence. Go to see something on your walks, if you discover nothing more
than a great hole in the ground; and come home with some thought about
what you have seen. I found out a great truth, one day last spring,
of which I was wholly ignorant before,--that a rose is sweeter in the
morning than in the noonday. Many a lesson in that; some practical
knowledge too.

In a delightful way, the hermit of Walden tells us how to take walks,
how to truly saunter. He says that the word saunterer was derived from
those persons who, during the Middle Ages, went on crusades to the
Holy Land. When one of them, as he journeyed towards the East, appeared
among the children, they would exclaim, "'There goes a Sainte
Terrer!'--a Holy Lander"--which, you can see, came to be called
"Saunterer." Thoreau says that every one who walks as he should, with
his eyes and his heart open, is bound to a Holy Land. "Every walk is a
sort of crusade, preached by some Peter the Hermit in us, to go forth
and reconquer this Holy Land from the hands of the Infidels." Is not
that a beautiful thought?

Walk with freedom of the chest and limbs, carrying nothing in the hands
to prevent the play of any muscles. Breathe through the nose rather
than through the mouth. I suppose the most of the girls can walk in
an ordinary street dress; but I would suggest, if a girl is to go far,
that she wear a full, short skirt, of not very heavy weight, a loose
flannel blouse, and stout shoes. This costume can be arranged so that
it will not in the least shock her townspeople. It is always safest,
and usually most agreeable, to walk accompanied by one or more friends
who are bound on the same quest. Begin your walk as you are to continue
it: at an even, easy pace, or with such steps as you naturally take
when the first signs of weariness appear. Use as much of your body
as you can. Welcome the increased circulation of the blood, and the
glow of the skin; but be very careful to retard these when you are
nearing the end of your saunter, or are about to rest for a while.
Remember the danger of standing or sitting quietly when in a

It is profitable to rest early in a walk, and to break it by frequently
sitting down for a few moments at a time. Do not walk too rapidly.
Remember you are not to care who gets to the top of the mountain first.
It should be your aim to see things on the way up, as well as from
the summit. If one often turns to get views from behind, the ascent
gradually prepares one's mind for the climacteric vision from the top.
You may boast that you have walked a given number of miles, but count
yourself still prouder because you have seen what that number of miles
held for you along the way.

Be careful of your steps, yet be bold and confident, that you may leap
the stream or scale the rock. If you stop to reflect, the stream will
grow wider, and the rock steeper and smoother. A stick helps many in
climbing, but I believe the skilled pedestrian climbs unaided. Do _not_
jump, girls. Creep, slide, crawl; but never shock your system
with a jump of few or many feet in height.

The dangers of walking arise from too great an ambition to go a long
distance, from striving to out-walk somebody, from walking too rapidly
and irregularly, and from allowing the mind to become so exhilarated
as not to be sensible of the fatigues of the body. Stop when you are
tired. Remember that, in a walk of ten miles, the last five are longer
than the first five; then reserve that second half for the next day.

Form observation clubs, mountain clubs, pedestrian clubs,--any worthy
association which will take you out of doors, and teach you about the
region in which you live. Be earnest about it, as about a solemn,
necessary work. Take your English cousins for examples. I think it
was Sara Coleridge who, in her old age, complained because she could
no longer walk more than fifteen miles a day. In that delightful essay,
written by Charles Lamb, on "Old China," Bridget Elia sighs because
she and her companion have become so rich they cannot walk their thirty
miles, as they had so often done, on a holiday.

In England or in Switzerland, one meets whole flocks of English girls
out on a walk of a week's duration. Think of the sport in such a
tramp,--the hilarity on the way! the lunches gathered by hap-hazard
from country bake-shops and groceries, and eaten in any retired nook
that offers by the roadside! Think of the appetite for commonest food,
and of the amusing difficulties which come from lack of knives and
forks! On such a walk, how easy to pick one's self up after lunch,
throw the dinner-table away, and trot on to the next village. As a
girl passes from town to town, how eager she is to note their
characteristics, to look at the people curiously, and to pry into their
shop-windows. How much she learns about Nature! Is the sky so blue
at home? Are the wild flowers so abundant? Is the grass so soft and
green? Oh, girls! try to make yourselves at home with Nature, and walk
out among her attractions. In all your observations of Nature do not
forget her living personality, her power to love you, to comfort you,
and to develop you. Feel that you have a friend with you even when
you seem to go solitary. Remember that, in learning to know Nature,
you are learning to know yourselves. From your friends and your books,
ask all about what you see. Be favored with every grand spectacle in
Nature, but be never wearied with her commonplace aspects. Do not think
of yourselves so much as living in rooms and houses, but as living
in _the_ house, the palace of the earth and sky, whose every gallery,
corridor and hall, is carpeted with Nature's tapestries of unfading
color and deep softness; whose walls are hung with glowing sunsets; and
through whose green roof, here and there, "a pane of blue sky" appears.



When God made heaven and earth, and all things beautiful for the
enjoyment of his children, He added His last, best blessing,--the
gift of work. Sweeter than the fruits of Eden, more grateful than the
fragrance that breathed from the flowers of Paradise, and grander than
all the starry hosts of heaven, was this most precious favor. By it
the world is delivered of its hidden riches, and the mind of man
developed into its broadest capabilities. Yes, dear girls, there is a
blessedness in work that transcends every joy you have. You know it; but
the question comes, How to make the most of the gift?

What a dull old world this would be if we spent all our days on hotel
verandas at summer resorts! Absolutely unbearable! We should all die
of ease. It is as necessary for us all to work as it is to breathe.
Nothing exists in the natural world without its special office or duty;
and surely, in the world of man, no one can live without occupation.
Lack of sufficiently worthy work is one of the crying evils of our
day, among both boys and girls. Every thing is done to make labor less,
or to turn it completely into pleasure,--to shirk it, or to scorn it.
The sewing-machine has made the good sewer a phenomenon. Our
grandmothers used to rip their dresses and linings with sharp scissors:
a good jump from a carriage will send us right out of a modern costume.
Teachers learn the lessons now, and the pupils take notes and cram once
in a while. Text-books have gone out of fashion. The next generation
will not see any antique furniture: it will all lie in a hopelessly
unglued state, separated into its elements. There will not be any china
tea-sets,--all broken in the last dish-washing. There may be a few
books in loose bindings and faded covers, and a few works of art in
frames that furnace-heat has set sadly awry. There will be a plenty
of fine machines.

Mr. Froude tells us, "When the magnificent Earl of Essex was sent to
Cambridge, in Elizabeth's time, his guardian provided him with a deal
table covered with green baize, a truckle-bed, half a dozen chairs,
and a wash hand-basin. The cost of all was five pounds." Harvard boys
have somewhat enlarged that invoice of housekeeping goods. What do
you think about the furnishings of college girls?

Welcome improvement. Yes, indeed! Be glad of clothes-wringers, dish-
washers, carpet-sweepers, Quincy methods, Meisterschaft systems, and
all else that will economize labor and time, or make more attractive
the special work you have to do; but never forget that no machine can
be invented which will make housekeeping a sport, and thorough, hard
work of any kind unnecessary. And remember, too, there is no royal
road to learning, as the Alexandrian philosopher said. Kings and queens
must walk over the same rough road which we tread when they go up to
the temple of knowledge. Cloth of gold cannot smooth the way, nor
elegant editions make knowledge more subservient.

Girls, what do you think about shirking work? One of the chief
differences between happy girls and moody ones consists in the amount
of work they do, or leave undone. The despair which settles over many
a girl's days, the indifference, comes from no longer being compelled
to do certain tasks. "Get work, get work: be sure 'tis better than
what you work to get." Do not delay the task that must be done.
Procrastination is worse than the thief of time: it is the robber of
our own character, our own growth and happiness. We need to work
continually to be strong, mentally, physically, or spiritually, even;
and the longer we put off exercise, the less competent we are. I cannot
believe that a lazy person is a real Christian. Who labors, prays.
I know so many girls who delay writing essays, hoping that slight
sickness, or some unforeseen event, may ward off the trouble of thinking
for an hour; then, when the time of necessity comes, and no deliverance
from the hands of tyrannical teachers, a series of nervous attacks
ensue, because of overtaxed minds (?); and the doctors order those
poor girls out of the presence of such cruel task-masters. Medical
science and educational science always do conflict; but eleven-o'clock
suppers, social circles, tri-weekly gad-abouts, and over-anxious
parents, who yearn for a good match for their daughters, disarrange the
brains and stomachs of girls oftener than any undue desire to excel in
study. The average student is never killed by the average school or the
average school-teacher. But shirking work of any kind, delaying it, or
contriving to make it less, will bring about a certain irregularity, and
certain spasmodic efforts that are utterly ruinous.

The cramming system, in schools, or homes, or trades, is deplorable.
You cannot put a whole geometry into your brain three days before
examination, without its bulging and breaking through the cranium in
less than a month's time. You cannot sweep and bake and wash Saturday
morning, without the pies burning, the clothes tearing, and the dust
flying. You cannot do all your book-keeping in just the hour before
the evening train starts: some one's account will be incorrect.
Regularity achieves what intensity never can. It is not the amount of
work that hurts, so much as spasmodic attempts to work. Girls are not as
strong as formerly. Irregular work, fast work, fast living, are largely
at fault. Girls scorn work: it is too humble, or too little appreciated.
Now, the fact is, girls, there is highest worth and dignity in precisely
those kinds of labor that seem the lowliest and count for the least.
Kinds of work differ, not so much in worth as in the use they make
of our faculties to do to our utmost what lies before us. The monotony
of housekeeping, or the daily repetition of work immediately to be
undone, is, after all, the most essential labor. Without it, especially
in America, the home would be destroyed. "If a woman is not fit to
manage the internal matters of a house, she is fit for nothing, and
should never be put in a house or over a house, any way. Good
housekeeping lies at the root of all the real ease and satisfaction in
existence." [Footnote: Harriet Prescott Spofford.]

It is an offence to women everywhere that in summing up women's work,
the census will carefully enumerate those employed in professions,--
doctors, lawyers, ministers, teachers, authors,--those who work in
factories and clothing establishments; those who are accountants,
manufacturers, servants, farmer's, and fish-women, even; but contains
not one word about the home-keepers. Are they not in any profession?
Have they no valuable calling? Enrolled, would not they swell the number
of workers by several hundreds of thousands in Massachusetts alone?
If the census slights home-keepers, however, the girls slight
home-keeping even more. Very few girls are to step aside from the
commonplace, as we carelessly term it; but more depends, in this world,
on the ordinary than the extraordinary. The work of the humblest is as
essential to the labor of the highest as is the work of the highest to
the labor of the lowliest. Michael Angelo could plan a St. Peter's; but
the men who climbed up with wood and stone--"the hewers of wood and the
drawers of water"--were necessary to its construction. Genius is a slave
to labor. Says Smiles, in his work on "Thrift," "Genius is but a
capability of laboring intensely"; making, you see, even talent itself,
and its highest expression, an outgrowth of work.

No simplest task we do but is essential to somebody. Slight it, shirk
it, scorn it, and somebody suffers. Leave the parlor undusted, and
callers are sure to come. Wear a stocking with a hole in it, you will
find it necessary to take your boot off before night. There is the
greatest need among girls of a more entire consecration to certain
humble, homely, housewifely duties. The wearing torment of discontent
with unassuming work arises not from lack of ambition, but from scorn
of what one has to do. I sometimes think this reaching out after the
unattainable is worse for a girl than passive indifference to what
she might acquire. A large part of the success a person achieves is
dependent upon her thinking her calling the very best in the world.
It is not the work which dignifies you: it is you who dignify the work.

The girl who wins honor in medicine, in literature, in music, in
engineering, in astronomy, in laundry-work, in cookery, in needle-work,
ennobles literature, or music, or science, or housekeeping. What worthy
pursuit can you not, by excellence, raise into honor and esteem? Matilda
of Normandy embroidered, in the quiet of her castle, stitch by stitch,
and day after day, the battle of Hastings, at which the Conqueror won.
When that great mingling of Normans and Saxons proved to be the
important and the last step in the making of England, men looked back
to the battle which decided the Norman Conquest, and, lacking needed
information from chronicles, turned to the work of Matilda. There,
on the Bayeux tapestry, was wrought the battle scene they required,--a
piece of woman's work. It was a peasant girl, you know, who brought
victory to France in the Hundred Years' War between that country and

Girls and boys have too slight an appreciation of manual labor. In
most ways, work with the hands is more necessary than mental labor.
God made man work in a garden before he gave him power to write books
or keep accounts. Fine white hands are very pretty when they belong
to a lady; but sunburnt, muscular ones are beautiful in the vineyard.

May I warn you not to despise the small amount of work you can
accomplish, as compared with what others are able to do? Let me remind
you, too, it is not what we get in money, buildings, knowledge,
reputation, influence, by means of work, so much as what labor does
for ourselves, our characters. Carlyle expressed the idea in a very
short sentence, "Not what I have, but what I do, is my kingdom."

Even if our work is spoilt as we near its completion, and, instead
of gain, failure awaits us, we have still been winners in ourselves,
because we have acquired habits of industry, have made our powers of
perseverance stronger, and have developed physical or mental strength
as well. Work is never lost. When Carlyle sat down to write his "French
Revolution" the second time,--a careless servant having burnt his
manuscript,--he was a nobler man than when he wrote out the first issue.
When Walter Scott failed, and Abbotsford was encumbered with a large
debt, when his dream of restoring a kind of baronial life was all
shattered, he did a grander work than in the building of that
magnificent estate; for he strove with all the powers of his mind to
earn the money which should repay his creditors. Though he died in
the struggle, it was not fought in vain.



"But what can I do?" you ask. Oh, I hear that so many, many times,
and I feel the deepest sympathy for the girl who asks it. Usually,
when the question is put, there is no marked ability in the
asker,--I mean, no special power to do a particular work. I have hardly
the right to say this, however, since we are all endowed in some way,
and each girl must have a work in which she can do better than any
other. Perhaps, girls, you belong to the great middle class,--the people
who have no large fortunes, no particular influence; and, maybe, you
think if you only had a rich relative, or some acquaintance, who stood
in authority, you might do a good work, or, at least, earn a livelihood.
Do you remember that this very class of people have been the greatest
reformers, thinkers, workers, rulers, everywhere? The United States
owes its existence to people who had to depend upon themselves.

But let us see about this question, what to do. In the first place,
if a girl has a decided inclination towards this or that honorable
calling, she should foster every opportunity for pursuing it. If she
can do a nurse's work better than a teacher's, and if no home ties
of an imperative nature restrain her, she ought to become a nurse.
A large field for the special work of nursing has been opened during
late years. In all our prominent hospitals we find training-schools
for nurses. The girl who feels she is fairly strong, and who has a
good amount of physical courage, does a brave deed when she goes into
the hospital to become a nurse. When she graduates, fitted to render
service to the sick, and willing to devote her life to them, she is
a noble acquisition to the world's helpers.

If a girl can do most and best as a physician or surgeon, she ought
to be always the doctor. We no longer question the right or ability
of women to practise medicine. The time will come when women will be
as numerous in the medical profession as men. A girl ought to be very
sure of a few things, however, before she studies medicine with a view
to practising. There are peculiar hardships in a doctor's life,
requiring physical strength, continuous toil, strong nerves, decision,
reticence, and indifference to unjust criticism. With natures more
susceptible than young men possess, be sure, girls, that you are equal
to the burdens that weigh so heavily on the shoulders of the boys.

If a girl can cook better than she can do other work, the kitchen ought
to claim her. Schools of cookery have made of cooking an art to be
industriously followed where success is desired. Superintendents of
cooking are usually reliable persons, and command good salaries. In
a smaller way, many a girl in town or country can turn her knowledge
of cooking to advantage, by selling her cake, or jelly, or pickles,
for a snug little sum. There is a call for such prepared food not only
in the industrial rooms of cities, but in country shops as well. We
buy Miss M.'s orange cake, and Miss F.'s spiced pickles; for the one
makes her cake, and the other her pickles, better, much better, than
others do. The world always wants the best in small as well as in great
things, and will pay for it.

Should a girl enjoy the cultivation of plants, she would be able to
give much pleasure to her friends by caring for a private conservatory
or window-garden. In this way she could learn much about plants, and
become a successful florist. Then, if there were reasons why she should
earn a living, with a small capital she could gradually work into the
cultivation of flowers to such an extent as to make them very
serviceable money-makers.

Sometimes girls have a fondness for fowls, and like to accumulate pin-
money from the eggs hens lay. Why should they not give much time to
the care of poultry? try for fine breeds, and for eggs that bring the
highest prices?

A good deal has been written recently in relation to the cultivation
of the silk-worm as a means of creating an occupation for girls and
women, and as a method of forwarding American industries. The results
already attained in this work are valuable and highly promising. Very
earnest women are encouraging its progress, and will gladly supply
any needed information in regard to it. Girls, you will come to see
that women of large hearts and generous souls are deeply interested
in your welfare. I hope every city has such noble examples of this
kind of women as Boston presents. If you wish to know more about silk
culture, please refer to Miss Marian McBride of the "Boston Post."

I have cited sufficient examples to urge that, if desire turns a girl
to this or that occupation, she ought to seek it and follow it,
provided, always, her judgment is as clear as her wish is ardent.
Remembering that a lady is such of herself, whether in a drawing-room or
an attic, behind the counter or in the school-room, a girl will be of
noble worth, and will become one place as well as another. I do believe
in choice of work; but I believe even more strongly in a girl's
preserving the "eternally womanly," whatever she does, and wherever she

In most cases, a woman's work and place are in her own home. "Wherever
a true wife comes, home is always round her. The stars only may be
over her head, the glow-worm in the night-cold grass may be the only
fire at her foot; but home is yet wherever she is: and for a noble
woman it stretches far round her, better than ceiled with cedar, or
painted with vermilion, shedding its quiet light far, for those who
else were homeless." [Footnote: Ruskin.]

As a girl is bound to do what she honestly feels she can do best, she
should never question how her work may seem to another, if it does
not absolutely injure another. I should not ask is this man's work
or woman's work; but, rather, is it my work? But, in whatever I
attempted, I should repeatedly say to myself, Am I keeping my womanhood
strong and real, as God intended it? am I working womanly? In many
cases, much more good might be accomplished by girls and women, if,
instead of so much talk about lacking privileges, they took the places
they could fill. Sister Dora never questioned whether she ought to bind
up the wounds of her crushed workmen: she laid them on the beds of
her hospital, and calmly healed them. Caroline Herschel did not stop
to ask whether her telescope were privileged to find new stars, but
swept it across the heavens, and was the first discoverer of at least
five comets. A great obstacle in the way of advancement to girls comes
from the coarse mannerism of certain women who have worked in given
directions. Why is it that, when a woman begins to do the work a man
has been accustomed to perform, she cultivates a man's ways? It is
not the work which does it. Would that there might be less of this
unwomanliness! Because a woman is a doctor, why need she use slang
or profanity? Because she holds certain great, liberal truths in regard
to woman, why must she wear a stiff derby, swagger, and strike
attitudes? These expressions, extremes in dress, conspicuous actions,
deceive many, and turn the world bitterly against what it ought to
receive. Such peculiarities are wholly unnecessary. Some of the
loveliest women who walk the earth are found among doctors, among
professors, among book-makers, among farmers, even.

You think there is less chance for girls to work than for boys? Yes,
there is; but, on an examination of statistics, I find that in all
positions--professions, clerkships, manufactures, trades, industries--
where you find men working, you will find women also, though in smaller
numbers usually. Examine the reports of census takers, and you will
find my statement true. In Mr. Wright's valuable pamphlet on "The
Working Girls of Boston," you will be surprised to find so great a
variety of employments as he there enumerates. There are recorded
merchants, machinists, carpenters, plumbers, cabinet-makers, and
tanners, even.

Why is it so many of you girls try teaching? Is it because that seems
a genteel way to get a living, and does not seem so hard as other
callings? In 1880 there were 8,562 women engaged in teaching in
Massachusetts. Of these, a fourth would probably have done a better
work in some other way. Teaching is a noble profession: it has great
chances for self-culture and for helpfulness to others. In no profession
can one do more good, if one tries with all one's heart. It is one
of the highest callings even for this reason: a teacher utterly unable
to see any results of her labor, in black and white, at the end of
her pupil's course, as the book-maker may see in the number of printed
pages, is willing to trust that, because she has done what she could,
good will come to her pupil. A carpenter may see his house completed;
but the building of mind, of character, of manhood and womanhood, the
teacher never may see finished. It passes on into the hands of the
great Teacher of all. Although teaching is a very responsible work,
yet does one seldom reach fame in it. The truth is, fame does not stand
for so much work done, but for so much worldly opinion gained. Do not
enter this work of teaching to misunderstand or slight it, but to be
proud of it, and to ennoble it.

You feel the necessity of earning money, and so must take whatever
work you can get? Alas! I know you do, many of you, dear girls. But
do not think this so very unfortunate. Unless your very life is being
worn out; unless your wages are ground down to a pittance, and your
work is wholly disagreeable, be thankful. You are as well off as the
girls who are languishing with dissipation and _ennui_. The average
girl has the average amount of hardship and blessing in her life. I
know there are many girls who cannot be found among the average.

If there is no wish on a girl's part to follow a special work, if she
has no marked ability, let her ask the advice of friends; but, more
than that, let her seek, through her own personal efforts, some honest
work. Pluck, not luck; the Yankee, not the aristocrat, earn a living.
For a girl of average ability I think a mingling of manual and mental
labor preferable to purely manual or strictly mental work. There are
many authors, journalists, accountants, etc., who have achieved striking
success; but ordinarily this success has sprung from certain brilliant
or profound mental attributes. Hand labor that requires no thought
does not exercise our best faculties. I cannot specify just here what
occupations an average girl may undertake. I gladly refer to certain
books which contain statistics of work and its profits, or which suggest
occupations: "The Working Girls of Boston," by Carroll D. Wright; "Think
and Act, Men and Women, Work and Wages," by Virginia Penney; "What
Girls Can Do," by Phillis Brown.

My poor girls, who work so hard, so very hard, who seem daily to narrow
all enjoyment, and to give your very existence to factories and looms,
to dry-goods counters and ready-made clothing stores, who put your
eyes out earning twenty-five cents a day, and sometimes put your souls
out trying to keep breath in your bodies one short year more,--what
shall I say to you? I cannot find the words to tell you what I would
say. Your experience shall not be embittered by being told what to
do and what not to do. Bear your work as well as you can, try to find
something really good about it, do not slight it. Remember you make
the world noble; and, if you have an absorbing desire to work in some
other way, watch every little loop-hole of opportunity, and see if
you cannot make it large enough to jump through to a wider field. Let
us all avoid fickleness, however,--the doing a little of this and of
that: it is poor economy. To grow up to a work, to master it, we must
first be slaves to it. Girls, everywhere, make progress
slowly,--_grow_ in efficiency, and do not shoot up into it.

Now, I want to talk a little to the girls who have leisure,--so much
of it, sometimes, that it all turns crazy on their hands, and expends
itself in the last most fashionable excitement. Girls too often do
things just because other girls are doing them, never for a moment
considering fitness or ability; consequently they look back upon half-
accomplished bits of work--this or that insanity in worsted, card-board,
wood-carving, modelling, or darning--very much as they would upon
the broken fragments of an upset dinner-table. Away up in that
convenient attic lie the desecrated splendors of the past, scattered
in confusion by charitable mice,--blue and crimson wax-flowers melt
underneath the eaves, all destitute of petals that would not fit on;
patchwork quilts and cushions, in silk and satin distractions, just
fall short of harmony in the arrangement of their squares and colors;
vivid buttercups and daisies mingle with bulky cat-o'-nine-tails,--all
on canvas covered with paint; blacking-jugs adorned with pictures,
embossed and otherwise; moth-eaten Kensington, partly outlined in
conventional lilies and conventional stitches; forlorn-looking cats
and dogs on half-made rugs and slippers,--all, all are there to point
out certain very unpleasant morals, referring chiefly to inability
and lack of perseverance.

Understand, to excel in worsted, in painting, in any of the arts which
afford so much pleasure, even in amateur work, is highly commendable.
Perhaps to dip into these occupations to pass time might be considered
better than laziness. But to do them simply because others are following
them is wholly unwarrantable. I do not believe in crazes,--do you?
What is worth doing is worth pursuing.

Intense interest may be necessary to success; but extremes make us
very abrupt, inconsistent, and fickle in our occupations. Test the
quality of your last attempt to make a tree on canvas before you buy
a full set of colors, and before you put out your sign as an artist.
Much study, hard work, aptitude, are required by art;--and the
phenomenal _debut_ of a fully fledged artist "after ten lessons" ("the
whole art taught in six weeks") will never be witnessed. I should say,
before passing further, that even a slight acquaintance with the
decorative arts as practised at present appears to be quite improving to
one's taste, and cultivating to the perceptions.

Music--singing, playing--is a great accomplishment. Would that every
girl might know its precious helps,--its sources of amusement and
culture, and the divine mysteries of its art. But unless you can express
the musician's thought, and interpret harmonies by harmony, never be
afraid to say, "I cannot play."

If the crazes which now threaten to capture society, and to seriously
affect the speech, work, dress, and accomplishments of young ladies,
continue at their present rate, I think there will be a grand chance
for escape from them. It will suddenly become the fashion to be
tranquil, plain of speech, real and thorough in every work. Now we
strive our utmost to prevent monotony, and promote variety. The
dressmaker's trade we learn in 1885 will not be of much use in 1886.
Last winter we learned how to cook; and this, we are studying how to
cure by mental processes. Next year we shall go to the gymnasium and
tighten up our muscles. After that, we may open sewing-schools; and,
perhaps, later, turn our attention to literature classes.

There are so many things a girl can do, even when society claims her,--
more than ever, I should say! Make work, if you cannot get it, girls.
Encourage poor girls by joining the industrial unions instituted in
their behalf. Go into the hospitals, old ladies' homes, charity bureaus,
flower missions. Join a Chautauqua club, or one of the societies for
the encouragement of studies at home. That one founded in Boston for
home studies, and which now numbers many hundreds, affords excellent
instruction, particularly in literature and history. This educational
society has done a wonderful amount of good through correspondence,
books loaned, criticisms, examinations. Attend the numerous lectures,
exhibits, etc., which are provided free of expense in all large cities.

Do not be afraid of useful fancy work. One can rest delightfully while
making a row on an afghan, or knitting on a bed slipper. I always pity
a boy who never seems to have any way of occupying himself while he
rests. He whistles, puffs a cigarette, perhaps, or whittles away the
window-seat. Girls have no need of being lazy while they rest. They
certainly will not sit in lawless indifference if they know the blueness
of discontent. Cheerful people are workers; and, when they find any
tendency to go "mooning" over their tasks, they shake themselves into
broad daylight.

I have suggested but a few of the things girls can do with greatest
profit to themselves and to others. Form reading associations, hygiene
societies, relief clubs, emergency clubs, horticultural unions, charity
bureaus, science clubs, painting clubs. Why are they not just as
entertaining as progressive euchre clubs? You know a girl never does
as well when no incentive is placed before her; so I have hinted at
the value of organization for general improvement, for work, and for
larger usefulness in every sense. The modern sewing-circle, the
missionary associations, even the temperance organizations in churches,
have frequently been most efficient means of holding churches together.
Clubs for boys are not so strongly recommended as for girls, because
these associations for young men come to be their dependence for
entertainment, and consume the hours which ought to be spent at home,
or in the society of both girls and boys. Club-life in England,
particularly London, has taken the place of home-life. Now, the girls
need have no fear from their associations, because they are formed
principally to forward the interests of home.

Work, then, girls! Work for pleasure, work for profit! Work for the
health of your bodies, and the health of your souls! "You will find
that the mere resolve not to be useless, and the honest desire to help
other people, will, in the quickest and most delicate ways, improve
yourselves." "When men are rightly occupied their amusement grows out
of their work, as the color petals out of a fruitful flower; when they
are faithfully helpful and compassionate, all their emotions become
steady, deep, perpetual, and vivifying to the soul as the natural pulse
to the body." [Footnote: Ruskin.]

But whatever your work is, girls, do not be in too much of a hurry
for great results. If there is any thing in old countries that strongly
impresses the American mind, it is, probably, the great amount of labor,
the infinite patience, and the centuries of time, that were necessary
to construct their public edifices. We cannot understand such waits,
such slow progress. On the contrary, the fact that most impresses the
mind of a foreigner in our own streets is the hurry, impatience, rush
and scramble of American life. The people walk along the narrow streets
of Boston with such hurried steps, such deeply-seamed faces, such
infinite anxieties, as if they were about to adjust the foundations of
the earth, and had about two minutes to spare before applying the lever.
Go slowly, girls, and your work will last the longer.

Do not expect to complete your line of reading or study in one winter.
Do not await a large salary for the first year's work. Do not hope
to more than initiate a charitable society in one autumn. Then try
to remember the necessity of concentrating forces, and of bringing
your heaviest action to bear on one point: too many undertakings
dissipate strength and prostrate work. There is a great deal of poor
work done now; and it is said to have been somewhat mediocre so far
through the nineteenth century, because time enough has not been taken
to do thorough work. The strong desire is to get to the end of toil. We
have hardly time to think what to get for dinner or what to wear; but we
get something to eat when we are hungry, and go out into the cold
wearing a spring jacket.

Now, one good, strong word more for work. We are born to enjoy and
use it; civilization depends upon it, our womanhood is strengthened
by it, our talents increased, our chances of happiness multiplied,
and our service in every department of life is made worthier by the
doing with our might just what lies before us.



How much girls think they will do when they get out of school! How
many books they think they will read!--histories of Greece and of Rome,
Grote and Curtius, of Plutarch and Gibbon; histories of France, Germany,
and England, Guizot, Ranke, Green and Freeman; biographies of Caesar,
Leo, Lorenzo, Frederick, Elizabeth, and Napoleon! How they will feed
on the literature of modern nations, from Chaucer through Tennyson;
from Luther through Goethe; from Rabelais through Victor Hugo; from
Bryant and Irving through Hawthorne and Longfellow! How much they will
translate from Homer and Virgil and Tacitus; from Schiller, Racine,
Fenelon, and Moliere! How much philosophy they will read from Darwin,
Spencer, Huxley! How they will trace the stars in the heavens, and
the marks of God's fingers on the rocks and sands! How they will
separate into their parts water and air, plants and animals! How they
will haunt the libraries, museums, laboratories, and lecture-rooms!--all
when they get out of school.

Oh, my dear girls, you will not do any of these things unless you have
much leisure, and an eager thirst for knowledge. Some new fascination--
society and pleasures--or special duties and pressing occupations will
drive the fervid desires of your school-days quite from your hearts,
or make it impossible for you to gratify them. At any rate, in
attempting to pursue all these studies, you will find that neither the
ordinary length of life, nor the average brain, will be sufficient for
the work. Your lists of books, like your lists of intentions, will serve
only to fill the waste-paper baskets.

But now let us see what you can do, girls, if you will. Almost every
one of you spends a few hours a week in reading, and some of you pour
away "oceans of time" over fashionable fiction. Why not give just two
or three little hours to study,--study so pleasant and so arranged
that you may call it reading, or recreating, or getting acquainted
with "the best of all good company"? After a while you will find these
hours precious and necessary. They will give you rest, and a greater
number of useful and pleasant subjects to think about; they will afford
you broader and readier information; and they will deepen within you
an interest in the highest and most helpful things this life affords.

What we get in the average school is largely rudimentary knowledge,
the object of which is to create a love for more knowledge, to bend
our inclinations towards what is true and right, to prepare our minds
for larger duties,--in a word, to fit us for a noble womanhood and
a useful citizenship.

Now, suppose you feel more kindly towards natural science than you
do towards mathematics; or suppose you have more fondness for language
than for philosophy: well, just at this period, since you are really
out of school, you ought to spend a few spare hours on the object of
your favor. You should branch off from the trunk of knowledge, and
flourish mainly in one direction, when you will find it will take all
the time you can give to grow into any size, and blossom into one kind
of fruitage.

There are so many things to learn in any department of knowledge, and
the amount increases so rapidly, year by year, that, after a certain
measure of general information has been acquired in the schools, it
is almost necessary to make rigid choice of what we shall study, or
of what we shall read. This may be narrowing, and even superficial,
in one sense, since it confines our information within one channel,
and prevents it from mingling with the ebb and flow of broader human
interests. It may make us too regardless of any pursuit aside from
our own, and bring us to the condition which many a foreigner finds
himself in,--that of holding a complete knowledge about his own trade,
but utter ignorance of every other. But I think not. If we are really
intelligent, and comprehend the difficulties of the department of
knowledge we are working in, I believe we have respect for the
department another fills, though we know nothing of it. Of course, we
are always to consider that the study we have chosen is best for us,
and, therefore, to be lovingly and jealously followed. I think the
method of choosing special studies is the only way of acquiring thorough
and accurate knowledge.

If you are devoting your odd hours to literature, it is unnecessary
to make pretensions to a knowledge of chemistry. Do not be afraid to
say, "I do not know." We all expect too much learning from one another,
especially elders from younger people. If John can tell his father
a great deal about surveying, and Mary cannot, no matter: she can tell
them both a good deal about physiology.

As far as possible, in your studying or reading, group those subjects
together which belong together. If you are inclined to the physical
sciences, bring into your work natural philosophy, general chemistry,
general physiology, biology, geology, and mineralogy. If you desire
to know more of one branch of natural science, as, for example, biology,
why not group zoology, conchology, anatomy, physiology, botany,
microscopy? I would always be careful not to make the group too large,
though learning from one science helps in another.

This grouping system is admirable. I believe that an honest observer
of the highest institutions for learning in our land, whether they
were founded for the interests of young men or young women, will remark
that there is too small a chance for grouping studies, and that the
opportunities for choosing electives are too few. The American idea
is, to get through the academy or college, and graduate with a diploma,
rather than to pursue a study till such time as those who know most
about that branch of learning shall deem a student ready for entrance
upon higher work. I must think the German universities superior to
ours in this respect. Life is short, and we can learn but little. I
do not understand why it is necessary to spend several years in the
preparation of certain studies for entrance to a college, when there
will be no special use made of them after matriculation. I do not see
how the imperative pursuit of science, for example, in school or
college, is going to help the girl who is determined to devote future
years to literature. Why, of course, it will not harm her; but why not
be more economical of time and strength?

I can see, and know from experience, that the elective system is not
wholly practical in high schools, nor for girls and boys who are not
yet eighteen years old: because boys and girls need a stated amount
of general knowledge, which they get in the high schools; because they
are not sufficiently decided in their own minds and feelings,--not
sufficiently developed, mentally, to really know what is best for them
to study; and because so many boys and girls will shirk the hardest
studies. I believe college presidents give these reasons sometimes
in regard to their own students. But it is to me incomprehensible that
men and women in college should not know what they are there for. If
they are working for the name of being college graduates, it is no
matter whether electives are presented to them or not. If they have
not any preferences in their studies, they never will have in life.
If they wish for a general broad education, which fits a student for
no special position, but makes him abler to fill any place in after
years, then only is a general, rather than a particular, course to
be recommended. In this last case, the counsel of teachers and friends
is indispensable; but, even here, choice is necessary.

But, girls, I am talking chiefly to those among you who have left the
high school or academy, and have reached an age when you have ideas
of your own. I shall be glad when it is possible, in the college or
the home, for every girl, who wishes, to follow, special or grouped
studies; and when she will no longer censure herself because, outside
of elementary knowledge of it, she is not acquainted with the study
her neighbor is pursuing.

In the programme of the new Bryn Mawr College, I have noted, with a
feeling of satisfaction, the strong recommendations to follow grouped
studies. If I understand the calendar of the University of Michigan,
and the register of Cornell University, I find in these institutions
a broad chance for taking electives and studies which properly belong
together. These should be high commendations.

There is as much to be said on how to study as on what to study, yet
I believe the question may be briefly answered. Study so that the ideas
of authors may become your own, though remoulded into such forms as
your own character, reason, experience and highest thoughts allow.
Suppose you are studying English literature. Be watchful, first, for
the writer's ideas: be sure you get _his_ thoughts, not such as
some one else says are his, according to some one's else interpretation;
then observe the manner in which those ideas are expressed. The merits
of a literary work lie quite as much in style as in the thoughts which
it contains. The cause or purpose of a book, the thoughts it holds,
its suggestiveness, its style, seem to me important points to bear
in mind when reading or studying a work.

You may be reading George Eliot's "Romola." Be sure, when the book
ends, that you see somewhat the purpose for which it was written. Be
impressed with its story: follow its wonderful descriptions, its
analysis of character; remark the knowledge which was brought to bear in
representing that great historical character Savonarola, the Florentine
republic, and the rule of the De Medicis; be moved by the pathos of
the story, its dignity and beauty; but remember most, that she who
begins with virtue grows, though through fiery furnaces of tribulation,
into a radiant, clear, crystal womanhood.

Perhaps you are reading Dowden's "Life of Southey." Be delighted with
the ease, the charm, of Dowden's style: dwell upon it. Consider his
fine powers as a biographer, but be impressed with the unsurpassed
diligence of Southey's life.

Are you reading Emerson's shorter essay on "Nature"? So peruse it that,
when you go out among the trees and grass and flowers, you will feel
the same kinship with them as did he.

History and biography, the sketch and criticism even, have been made
truly charming of late years by the vividness in which actions have
been depicted and characters portrayed, as well as by clearness and
beauty in expression. We turn to an historical work with as much zest
as to a romance, and find in it, now, that enthusiasm, that liveliness,
that interest in human affairs which old historians allowed to be
obscured by dates and names. If you are studying Roman history, be never
so particular about when each battle was fought as about the great
causes of the rise of Rome,--energy, pride, deprivation, hardihood,
union of citizens, sturdiness, ferocious perseverance, courage,
abstinence, valor: remark the results attained by these qualities,--
Rome, the mistress of the world, with an empire stretching to the ends
of the earth. Then note the causes of her fall,--greediness, wealth,
luxury, effeminacy, satiety, corrupt morals,--and bring the lesson home
to your own nation, and to your own selves. Says Mr. Ruskin, "It is of
little consequence how many positions of cities a woman knows, or how
many dates of events, or how many names of celebrated persons--it is
not the object of education to turn a woman into a dictionary. But
it is deeply necessary that she should be taught to enter with her
whole personality into the history she reads,--to picture the passages
of it vitally in her own bright imagination; to apprehend, with her
fine instincts, the pathetic circumstances and dramatic relations which
the historian too often only eclipses by his reasoning, and disconnects
by his arrangement. It is for her to trace the hidden equities of divine
reward, and catch sight, through the darkness, of the fateful threads
of woven fire that connect error with its retribution."

If you are studying the natural sciences, so follow them that you may
see more clearly the rocks, the sea, the sky, the verdure of the earth,
the mountains and the valleys, the rivers and the lakes,--all the
creations upon the earth, as far as you have studied them,--so that
a new heaven and a new earth shall be spread before you, and you shall
learn to appreciate more fully the beneficence of God.

Are mathematics your choice? Then learn from them the value of
stability, fixedness; the worth of accuracy in all studies and in all
callings; the power of durability, especially as it refers to the
durableness of right against wrong; the perfections of forms and
symbols; the truths of reasoning; the necessity of discipline.

Are you translating from this or that author? Be sure that you are
first accurate; then, that you have entered into the spirit of the
writer and the work, that your own language is being made more copious,
and fluency of speech or written discourse acquired. The discipline
of translating accurately is next in value to that obtained from the
study of numbers. The difficulty of turning this accurate translation
into the idiom of one's own language is most stubborn.

It would be very pleasant for us to talk about the choice of books
we ought to make in our reading, and I think it would be quite
profitable to hunt up those authorities who have given most attention to
the subject of reading. There are many such authorities.

David Pryde, in his practical papers called "The Highways of
Literature," thinks the true method of dealing with books is, "(1)
To read first the one or two great standard works in each department
of literature; and (2) to confine, then, our reading to that department
which suits the particular bent of our mind." Then he lays down these
definite rules, telling us how to read: "1. Before you begin to peruse
a book, know something about the author. 2. Read the preface carefully.
3. Take a comprehensive survey of the table of contents. 4. Give your
whole attention to whatever you read. 5. Be sure to note the most
valuable passages as you read. 6. Write out, in your own language, a
summary of the facts you have noted. 7. Apply the results of your
reading to your every-day duties." These rules ought, every one of them,
to be emphasized in our association with books. In my own experience, I
find Number 4 of great importance, as well as Numbers 5 and 7. I would
add, by way of caution, that the moment you become weary from reading,
or grow nervous with studying, you should stop. Studying never does
harm, but nervous excitement does. When you have puzzled your brains an
hour over a problem in arithmetic, the probability is that you have
ceased thinking rationally, and are only plunging deeper and deeper into
confusion. Nervous prostration comes from unreasonable taxation of
the brain oftener than from real, systematic study.

I think you will find a little book by Charles F. Richardson very
helpful in regard to your reading. It is called "The Choice of Books,"
and it treats of such subjects as, "What Books to Read," "How Much
to Read," "What Books to Own," "The Motive of Reading," and other topics
of a similar nature.

It will make an agreeable conclusion to our thoughts on what to read,
and how to read, to quote the following from Richardson: "Homer,
Plutarch, Herodotus, and Plato; Virgil, Livy, and Tacitus; Dante, Tasso,
and Petrarch; Cervantes; Thomas a Kempis; Goethe and Schiller; Chaucer,
Spenser, Shakespeare, Milton, Bacon, Sir Thomas Browne, Bunyan, Addison,
Gray, Scott, and Wordsworth; Hawthorne, Emerson, Motley, Longfellow,
Bryant, Lowell, Holmes, and Whittier. He who reads these, and such
as these, is not in serious danger of spending his time amiss. But
not even such a list as this is to be received as a necessity by every
reader. One may find Cowper more profitable than Wordsworth; to another
the reading of Bancroft may be more advantageous than that of Herodotus;
while a third may gain more immediate and lasting good from historical
novels like Eber's 'Uarda,' or Kingsley's 'Hypatia,' than from a long
and patient attempt to master Grote's 'History of Greece,' or Gibbon's
'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.' Each individual reader must
try to determine, first of all, what is best for himself. In forming
his decision, let him make the utmost use of the best guides, not
forgetting that the average opinion of educated men is pretty sure
to be a correct opinion; but let him never put aside his own honesty
and individuality. He must choose his books as he chooses his friends,
because of their integrity and helpfulness, and because of the pleasure
their society gives him."



In the majority of our higher schools, and probably in the education
of most persons, a deficiency in the knowledge of English is to be
remarked. Now, if girls are not fond of science, nor inclined to the
study of philosophy, foreign languages, music, or painting, why do
they not follow certain courses in English? Why do they not study
English literature, paying heed to its history, its rhetoric, but more
especially to the works of its greatest authors? Literature is the
most cultivating to the mind, the most necessary to a general education,
and it affords the most pleasure to persons, no matter what their
condition may be. Easily pursued, it requires no capital but time, and
costs no more than a walk to the public library. The liberal educations
which some persons have acquired from what they have read in English
literature demanded only wise choice of books, time, and perseverance.

I find, on an examination of the requirements for entrance to college,
that English is the least regarded. It rarely goes beyond spelling,
punctuation, figures of speech, and the reading of prescribed books,
few in number, and which do not require a month's study. The absurdity
of demanding all the rules of Latin prosody, when the student never
read a line of the "Deserted Village," and probably will not, through
his college course! Says one catalogue, which represents a great
institution, "A large proportion of those who seek admission to the
university are found to be very deficient in their preparation in
English." It is not surprising. May they be helped before they graduate
from the university.

In looking over the catalogues of numerous colleges where girls are
educated, I have been indeed gratified with the great advantages they
present to young women. How I wish I could enjoy even a few of these
privileges,--these opportunities for a higher education! Is it not
much to be grateful for, that so many of you girls not only can go
to college, but really do go? I am glad for you all. Smith and
Wellesley, Boston University and the Annex at Cambridge, Michigan
University, Cornell, Bryn Mawr, and the rest, are all magnificent
attractions to the student. Yes, indeed! But how I wish that
English--English literature--was more earnestly pursued in every one of

Within the limits of this talk, I can say but little on the study of
English; so I shall confine my suggestions to a few courses of reading,
which I hope may be helpful to some of you.

A knowledge of literature implies an actual acquaintance with the works
of authors; and no lists of names and dates, no anecdotes, nor literary
gossip, can take the place of this acquaintance: but, to make these
works more useful and intelligible, we should connect history with
them. How can I fully appreciate the oratory of the American Revolution,
if I know nothing of the war between England and the Colonies? How
can I get the real value out of "The Talisman," "Kenilworth," or
"Ivanhoe," if I have no knowledge of the Crusades, of Elizabeth's reign,
or of that period in English history when Richard of the Lion Heart was
king? Again, how can I understand why any age in English prose or poetry
was characterized by a peculiar kind of thinkers, if I do not know
the history and tendency of that age? Why, in one epoch, do we have
men writing on classical subjects in a way which represents form as
more important than matter? and why, in another age, are writers turning
from an artificial to a natural style?

Experience proves that it is profitless to study the formative periods
of English literature before trying to get acquainted with it in its
present condition. One should work backwards, and not forwards, in
this study. The practice of beginning with Anglo-Saxon writers, and
studying down to nineteenth-century authors, is to be utterly condemned.
How can I hope to like or even comprehend an English version of Caedmon,
or, later, Chaucer, if I cannot yet see the beauty of Whittier? The
history and philosophy of English literature are indeed important,
but they are entirely subordinate to the works themselves.

English literature was not hatched full-fledged; its feathers have
been growing for centuries; it did not even fly high till Elizabeth's
reign; and it has not been prolific till within a century or two. We
want to see what the bird looks like full grown, before we can
understand about the embryo in the egg.

In the first place, I should get familiar with some very concise manual,
so that I might refer to it for guidance; but my most earnest work
should be with certain epochs in literature, and with special
representative authors, around whom I could group other dependent
writers, or such as did not so nearly represent the period I was

If you are studying epochwise, why not read choice selections from
the prose of the nineteenth century,--some of its masterpieces? Get
a general notion of the earlier parts of the century by consulting
some manual on the subject, such as Spalding's "English Literature,"
chapters XIII., XV., and XVI. When you have ascertained that the reviews
founded in the first quarter of the century contained the most valuable
literature, read some of the papers in the "Edinburgh Review," the
"Quarterly," and "Blackwoods." Very good collections have been made
from them, especially in a series of books known as "Modern British
Essayists." Read, for example, Sydney Smith's essay on "Female
Education"; one of Jeffrey's criticisms on the early poets of this
century; an historical or a biographical article by Alison; or one
of Professor Wilson's sketches in his "Recreations of Christopher
North." But be most desirous of reading that brilliant essayist, and
that most impressive of contributors to the "Edinburgh Review,"--
Macaulay. I wish you would read his articles which have special
reference to literature, perhaps in this order: Moore's "Life of Byron,"
"Mme. D'Arblay," "Goldsmith," "Samuel Johnson," "Addison," "Dryden,"
"Leigh Hunt," "Bunyan," "Milton," "Bacon." Of miscellaneous essays,
please note "Von Ranke," "Warren Hastings," and "Frederick the Great."

After Macaulay, study Carlyle, though only in parts, reading "Heroes
and Hero Worship," and "Burns." The last is especially valuable to
you. Note Carlyle's sincerity, his "gospel of work," his love of Nature,
his earnestness, his despair, his giant intellect. If you are interested
in his peculiar merits, read the "French Revolution."

Read selections from Emerson; but always slowly, carefully, dwelling
longest on this writer's more practical essays, those which inspire
impulses within you to nobler living.

Realizing how great an influence Nature has exerted over the prose
as well as the poetry of this century, study Emerson's two essays on
"Nature"; selections from Thoreau, especially from "Excursions";
Kingsley's "Winter Garden"; passages from Ruskin, particularly those
written about "The Sky," "Clouds," "Water," "Mountains," "Grass."

You will appreciate the critical spirit of this age. Though most of
the authors so far mentioned were critics, as well as essayists, you
will find it helpful to read from the following: De Quincey, Hazlitt,
Hallam, Ruskin, Whipple. If you can read but one work from DeQuincey,
take, instead of a criticism, his "Confessions of an English Opium
Eater," the style of which is considered masterly. Its sentences are
melodious, its English elegant and classical. From Ruskin, that writer
who founded art criticism, read those delightful passages brought
together in the volume called "The True and the Beautiful"; and
carefully peruse the little book known as "Sesame and Lilies." Hallam I
should refer to for special information in regard to European
literature. Our own Whipple will aid you to a knowledge of Elizabethan

Next, read the essays of Lamb, such as are included in "Elia." Love
the quaint, beautiful spirit of the author; and take delight in his
witticisms, his reveries, and playful fancies.

Perhaps, just here, it would be well to introduce Irving. Pay especial
heed to his "Sketch-Book," "The Alhambra," and "Bracebridge Hall."
In order to appreciate the position this writer holds in American
literature, and the feeling with which he is regarded, both in our
own country and abroad, get some knowledge of the condition of our
literature before Irving placed it upon a firm basis, and learn about
the grace and dignity of this man's deportment. Appreciate, too, the
beauties of this author's style in writing.

Then examine the sketch as it appears in Leigh Hunt's "Wishing Cap
Papers," Thackeray's "Roundabout Papers," Curtis's "Potiphar Papers."
You might include under this head such rare bits of prose as you cannot
conveniently classify, as, for example, Dr. Brown's "Rab and His
Friends," Curtis's "Prue and I."

Now look a while at the uses of biography. I think the study of every
great author's works should be either prefaced or supplemented by a
good biography or correspondence. This necessary aid to literature
has been amply afforded by the celebrated "English Men of Letters"
series, and also by the "American Men of Letters." The influence of
biographies upon your lives you will find of the highest importance.
There are other lives than those of purely literary men and women which
I should recommend.

You must have become aware of the great value of historical literature
in this age. Note what additions it has received from the intellects
of such historians as Macaulay, by his "Life of Frederick the Great"
and by his "History of England"; as Motley, by his "Dutch Republic";
as Prescott, by his "Ferdinand and Isabella"; as Alison, by his "History
of Europe"; as Froude, by his "Life of Caesar." One can hardly be
without such valuable reference-books as Green's "History of England,"
Freeman's various histories, and those included in the Epoch Series.
But, before reading any of these works, it would be well to read various
essays on how history should be written. There is an article by Macaulay
on this subject, very brilliantly written, and truthfully. There are
also valuable essays on the same subject by Froude, Freeman, Carlyle,
Emerson, Miss Cleveland.

You might profitably combine with this topic of history that of travels.
You know works of travel form a large, and certainly a delightful,
part of our reading.

You have doubtless noticed the popularity which fiction always receives.
It embraces the majority of the books written in this age. Try to study,
in a concise way, the development of the novel from the time of
Richardson and his immediate followers, and find its most perfect
expression in the works of George Eliot, Dickens, Thackeray, Hawthorne.
Look a little at the history of the romance previous to this century,
beginning, if you like, away back with Thomas Malory's "Morte d'Arthur."
Find the best illustration of the romance in Scott. To such a writer
as Scott you might add Cooper and Kingsley, though the romance is
presented by the last writer in but one powerful book, "Westward, Ho!"--
at least, it seems so to me. Novelists always require a very just choice
of their works. If you start with a novel of Dickens which does not lead
you gradually into an appreciation of his genius, you will throw the
book away in disgust. One needs to be particular about the order in
which one reads Thackeray, or Scott, or Cooper, or Kingsley, even. I
think the same may be said of Hawthorne.

In whatever good novel you read, be as careful to notice the artistic
merits of the work, the beauties and graces of its style, as the
construction of its story.

If you prefer to study the poetry of this century, you should strive
first to gain a knowledge of that which was written in the last quarter
of the eighteenth century. You should remark the great changes produced
in the minds of writers by the French Revolution, and note the growing
love for freedom of opinion and freedom in government; also the
increasing love for the natural world. Then you are ready to begin
with a programme like this:--

1.  A General Survey of Poetry in this Century.

2.  The Study of Nature and Man.

3.  Wordsworth and his Poetry.

4.  The Imaginative,--Coleridge's "Ancient Mariner."

5.  The third Lake Poet,--Southey.

6.  The History of the Ballad.

7.  Campbell.

8.  The Narrative,--Scott's Poems.

9.  Byron's "Childe Harold."

10. The Melodies of Moore.

11. A Study of the Beautiful,--Keats and Shelley.

12. Various Secondary Poets accomplished in Verse.

13. The Song Writers.

14. The Victorian Era.

15. Tennyson.

16. Woman as Poet,--Mrs. Browning.

17. Humor in Verse,--Hood, Holmes.

18. Poetry in America,--Bryant.

19. Longfellow and Whittier.

20. Lowell and Taylor.

21. Robert Browning.

How delightful it would be to follow a programme which should include
only American writers, in either prose or poetry!

Again I feel the necessity of urging you to study these authors for
the thought there is in their works, and for the style in which those
thoughts are expressed. Make these works text-books and pleasure-books.

If you should wish in a more general way to get acquainted with such
specimens of English as combine the best style with the best matter,
or with such as present either excellency in thought, or beauty in
form, you might find help in the following selections. I have culled
their titles, for the most part, from the catalogues of our leading
schools and colleges:--

Chaucer's "Clerk's Tale;" Shakespeare's plays, particularly "Julius
Caesar," "Merchant of Venice," "Macbeth," and "The Tempest;" Milton's
"Paradise Lost" and "Comus;" first five cantos of Spenser's "Faery
Queen;" Goldsmith's "Deserted Village" and "She Stoops to Conquer;"
Scott's "Lady of the Lake" and "Marmion;" Burns's "Cotter's Saturday
Night;" Coleridge's "Ancient Mariner;" Keats' "Eve of St. Agnes;"
Lowell's "Vision of Sir Launfal;" Longfellow's "Courtship of Miles
Standish" and "Evangeline;" Tennyson's "Princess" and "In Memoriam;"
Whittier's "Snow Bound;" Sidney's "Defence of Poesie;" Bacon's Essays;
Carlyle's "Burns;" Emerson's "Eloquence;" Macaulay's essay on "Milton;"
Thackeray's "Henry Esmond" and "English Humorists;" Dickens's "David
Copperfield" and "Tale of Two Cities;" Scott's "Kenilworth" and "The
Abbot;" George Eliot's "Silas Marner" and "Romola;" Kingsley's "Westward
Ho!"; Irving's "Sketch Book;" Ruskin's "Sesame and Lilies;" Addison's
De Coverley papers; "Essays of Elia;" Longfellow's "Hyperion;"
Whittier's essay on "The Beautiful;" Hawthorne's "Scarlet Letter" and
"Twice-Told Tales;" Thoreau's "Excursions;" Leigh Hunt's "Wishing Cap
Papers;" Arthur Helps's essay "On the Art of Living with Others;"
Curtis's "Potiphar Papers;" Prescott's "Last of the Incas;" Motley's
"Siege of Leyden." You will observe these names are given without regard
to system.

Special topics may offer themselves to your mind without reference
to an epoch, as the History of Fiction, the History of the Drama; or
it may often be most profitable to study the literature of a certain
reign or age,--as the Age of Elizabeth, the Reign of Queen Anne, the
Period of the English Reformation, the Revolutionary Period. Another
way of studying literature is suggested by those who, having a general
knowledge of it, devote their hours of reading chiefly to one author,
as, for example, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton. Experience proves to
me that the study of a certain number of masterpieces, around which
selections of less worth may be grouped, is the most thorough way to

Intimately connected with the study of literature is the science of
rhetoric. By means of it we learn to appreciate good style, we are
better fitted to criticise the works we read, and are certainly made
better able to correct our own faults in writing. It is indispensable
to the study of English literature.

As I have already stated, history and literature are closely connected,
yet it is quite possible to study history so that it will have no direct
bearing upon literature.

It would be an agreeable task to map out here courses in history; but
the work has been so admirably done by Professor Charles K. Adams,
there is really no need of any suggestions except such as are found
in his "Manual of Historical Literature." In this work you will find
the names and descriptions of all the books required to get a knowledge
of any historical subject. The author has also given definite courses
of reading on historical subjects, including in his plan all valuable
works which border upon the subjects.

In history, as in literature, the most attractive and thorough way
of studying is by epochs. In this connection, the little histories
known as the "Epoch Series" are most valuable. The books are divided
into the two general classes of ancient and modern history. Each work
attempts to give a picture of an important epoch, and to faithfully
discuss the period. The series pertaining to modern history includes
"The Normans and the Feudal System," "The Crusades," "The Beginning
of the Middle Ages," "The Early Plantagenets," "Edward the III.," "The
Era of the Protestant Revolution," "The Thirty Years' War," "The Houses
of Lancaster and York," "The Age of Elizabeth," "The Fall of the
Stuarts," "The Puritan Revolution," "The Age of Anne," "Frederick the

I should study these subjects, and group about them such works, in
history, biography, fiction, or poetry, as Professor Adams suggests.

I have not selected for special remark literature, rhetoric, and history
because you are girls. If this were so, I should have followed the
dictates of society, and added the study of languages. Young women
and young men need no particular educational differences. It has been
proved that girls are as capable of excelling in any study as boys
are. Let me quote to you the following:--

"A very common belief is, that women, even when studious, are rather
literary than scientific. Statistics prove either that they are changing
in this regard, or that the notion is erroneous. The great majority
of women at the universities of Zurich and Geneva study not letters,
but science and medicine. M. Ernest Legouve reported in a recent
competition for fellowships in the University of France, 'The papers
of the scientific candidates were greatly superior to those of letters.
This result contradicts a very general opinion, which I myself have
strongly supported, that scientific studies--the abstract sciences
and mathematics--must hold a subordinate place in women's education,
because they are incompatible with the nature of the female intellect.
We have been mistaken.' In England, Miss Ormerod has distinguished
herself by her observations on insect life. Very recently a paper was
read before the Mathematical Society of London by Mrs. Bryant, Sc.D.,
on the geometrical form of perfectly regular cell structure, illustrated
by models of cube and rhombic dodecahedron. In another section, Mme.
Traube Mengarini studies the function of the brain in fishes; while,
in our own country, Mrs. Treat and others have made valuable progress
in scientific research." [Footnote: Graphic.]



Commonplace! Why, what is commonplace? Were it not better to call all
things ordinary, or else nothing common? I suppose the pyramids are
commonplace to the Egyptians, and St. Peter's to the Romans, drawing
forth no words of wonder unless on special occasions; just as the stars,
in their thronging pilgrimage across the sky, elicit no remarks from
us, unless one falls out of the procession; and just as the dawn comes
to us unfolding the new day without our ever greeting it, unless it
be heralded with pomp of crimson and gold. Travel over the world, make
your path a belt around the earth, visit all that is wonderful, and
see all races of people,--do this without ever thinking deeply on the
objects presented to sight or mind, and all things will become
commonplace, unsatisfactory, dull, dronish.

Believe me, girls, there is nothing commonplace that is worth thinking
about. And, pray, has God made any object which is not worth a thought?

Are you living in a city, girls, surrounded by opportunities for
improving your mental faculties; blessed by association with persons
of refinement; favored with that peculiar culture which only great
cities can freely offer in their art-galleries, their museums, their
lecture-rooms; and stimulated to do good to the poor about your streets?
You are, indeed, favored: your lot is an enviable one.

Do you live out of town, and quite removed from the attractions of
a metropolis? Ah! your home, then, is under clearer skies, which the
city artists can only imitate; you live amidst the decorations which
highest Nature imparts but to country landscapes. Without the especial
occupations of city life, you escape its rush and tumult. You are being
taught by slower, yet as attractive, methods, the grand lessons of
life. The instruction which comes from woods and streams and hills,
and the intercourse which arises among hearty country people, are more
thorough and more cordial than the brick walls and hurrying crowds
of a city can afford. Your chances for even aesthetic culture are not
to be despised. Though you see fewer objects of art, listen to fewer
men of genius, perhaps are obliged to be less among books, you learn
to know the artistic works more truly, you appreciate the lecture more
fully, and you remember the books you read longer.

Is your home by the ocean, on some sterile length of sand or rock,
and amongst sea-faring people? Still, you are girls to be envied; for
the sea has grand thoughts to tell you, and the rocks are full of
meaning. The bracing air, the salt breeze, the impetuous beat of the
sea, must arouse energy within you which even the heat of summer cannot
wholly allay. Surely, the hospitable, the generous-hearted, people of
your town must prove to you the worth of intercourse with them.

Considering, now, the position of a girl in her home, in society, in
the world, I suppose we must make the confession that a large part
of the discontent we have found among girls has arisen from
dissatisfaction with their positions. Her resources, her industries, her
pleasures, are all too narrow for her, the girl complains. Now, my dear
girls, just think one moment! Isn't it rather your ignorance of your
surroundings, your lack of effort to find out everything good and joyful
in them, which have made you discontented? Don't you think you may be
looking for something above your heads which really lies under your
hands? Have you made the most of what you already possess? When one has
seen England and France, then one is seized with an ardent desire to
visit Germany, Italy, Russia, and Spain. When a girl has a watch, she
feels a great longing for a diamond. The means of gratifying one wish
are the surest passports to another wish. Oh, yes! it is well to be
dissatisfied sometimes. It is never quite right to be fully contented,
after a noble endeavor; but do let us stop, now and then, to see if
our present condition, and what it brings to us, have not something
in them as good as the future can offer.

Would it not be a good rule to make, never to get a new book till we
have read the last one we bought; not to look at the second picture
in the gallery till we have some idea of the first we see; not to climb
Mount Washington till we have had the view from the hills in our own

But I suppose you think that persons, rather than objects, are
commonplace,--that even some girls are so? Well, it may be you have
the truth on your side; but I should as soon think of commonplace
flowers, or gems, or rainbows, as of commonplace girls. You remark, "Oh,
she is very ordinary, is not at all interesting! She is neither
cultured, rich, stylish, nor pretty. She is stupid!" Ah, girls, girls,
do you really know what she is, or what she may become? A girl
commonplace! Suppose she is not lively, is not fond of parties, does not
use slang appropriately at all, is utterly ignorant of the last freak of
fashion, and hardly knows whether her skirt is draped or plain; suppose
she has, on the whole, a rather forlorn appearance, being pitifully
unconscious of what is unbecoming in dress, or gait, or habit; suppose,
in fact, she does not at once show you she has any special faculty,--
well, I have seen such a girl win a prejudiced person completely, and
show that, though it cost patience to get acquainted with her, the
acquaintance was worth every effort. A girl of this kind often takes us
by surprise, and proves reliable in an emergency. Something remarkable
is done, and we want to know who did it! We are amazed when we hear in
answer the name of some quiet girl of whom we had never thought much,
and we exclaim, "Why, I did not know she could do any thing! Where did
she ever get the courage? I didn't know she had a speck of brains,
or heart, or any kind of faculty,--no brilliancy to her!"

Yes, girls, it must be charming to be brilliant, to be apt at repartee,
to scatter bright remarks among a company as a queen scatters largess
among the throngs on coronation day, to have a following in society
who are like ladies in waiting. Oh, it must be delightful, for a while,
to be a society heroine! You know just such a girl. She leads a dozen
in her steps, and her remarks are quoted whenever the dozen are
together. Ah, she is so much admired! The way in which she lets a stray
look hang down over her forehead, the becoming toss of her head, the
coquettish raising of her eyes, the shrug of her shoulders, the ring
of her laugh,--the way she does every thing with her pretty face, her
graceful form,--is so lovely! She is such a very "bright" girl too!
Yes, "bright" is the word now used to distinguish one who is in
appearance somewhat more than the average person.

But, girls, why not say that your friend is pretty, graceful,
good-natured; that she dresses becomingly, is rather cultivated in her
tastes; that she is confident of herself, and a little conceited and
imperious; that she is quick, and ready with somewhat pert answers; and
that she is seen at her best in society?

In spite of frowns and closed ears, girls, I am going to insist that
all the attractions of a brilliant, or outwardly beautiful, girl are
as nothing compared with the attractions of character which spring
from many a plain, modest, quiet girl. Are you to wear your choicest
attributes as you do your clothes? A sure, strong arm in danger, a
gentle word in sorrow, an honest bit of counsel in doubt, courage in
times of trial, hearty praise in periods of endeavor,--all qualities
which have their origin in noble character,--you will come to feel
are infinitely better than brilliancy. You will appreciate them in
those from whom external beauty has departed, or you will recognize
the loveliness of these characteristics in the ever-living beauty which
the soul draws upon faces otherwise plain and homely. Cultivate that
power of insight which will enable you to look beyond eyes and nose
and mouth into the heart and soul of your friends: then you will see
beauty indeed, then you will know how precious and how beautiful a
woman's mind and a woman's character is. Then you will understand how
the poet writes her song, how the artist paints her rose, how the
musician meets out harmonies, how the teacher makes truth attractive.
More than this--much more than this--will come from insight. When you
have learned to look for inner beauty you will learn to make it your
own. Behind your lovely faces and your beautiful forms there will be
nourished the loftiest ideality of womanhood, which will make you not
only comprehend the worth of another, but will help you to interpret all
that is best and loveliest everywhere. It's very sweet to us to recall
that such women as Alice and Phoebe Cary, Helen Hunt, Mrs. Browning, and
Jean Ingelow were able to express in words such beautiful thoughts as
could arise only from beautiful souls; but it is dearer yet to remember
that women, whose numbers cannot be counted, are living those thoughts
by daily acts. Learn to lift the cover from the casket of a woman's soul
and you shall see jewels that never yet have been exposed to the glance
of one who looks for them in sparkling eyes, in glowing cheeks, and
radiant hair. If there is any thing most sweet and lovely, any thing
which ought to distinguish one girl from another, it is character.

I wish, as a favor to your friend who now talks with you in print,
since she cannot speak with you face to face,--I wish you would read
an essay on "The Beautiful," to be found among the prose works of
Whittier. There is such delicate admiration of womanliness in it; there
is so much encouragement, so much love of that beauty which shows itself
in character, rather than in form and presence; there is such an
emphasis put to the truth that from the purity of our own minds and
hearts come our knowledge of the beautiful, and our ability to find the
beautiful everywhere. "'Handsome is that handsome does!--hold up your
heads, girls!'... Be good, be womanly, be gentle, generous in your
sympathies, heedful of the well-being of all around you; and, my word
for it, you will not lack kind words of admiration. ... Every mother's
daughter of you _can_ be beautiful. You can envelop yourselves in an
atmosphere of moral and intellectual beauty, through which your
otherwise plain faces will look forth like those of angels. Beautiful to
Ledyard, stiffening in the cold of a northern winter, seemed the
diminutive, smoke-stained women of Lapland, who wrapped him in their
furs, and ministered to his necessities with kindness and gentle words
of compassion. Lovely to the homesick heart of Park seemed the dark
maids of Sego, as they sung their low and simple song of welcome beside
his bed, and sought to comfort the white stranger who had 'no mother to
bring him milk, and no wife to grind him corn.' Oh, talk as we may
of beauty as a thing to be chiselled from marble, or wrought out on
canvas!... what is it but an intellectual abstraction, after all? The
heart feels a beauty of another kind. Looking through the outward
environment, it discovers a deeper and more real loveliness."

Girls are so often afraid of the commonplace in people that they will
not marry unless some one, with a true or false claim to distinction,
offers himself. We have seen quite a company of girls charmed with
the "de" or the "von" attached to a man's name. Every foreign capital
can show its scores of American girls who have made themselves
ridiculous by giving up property, home, American ideas, and American
ways,--alas! by giving up much that stands for character,--for the sake
of marrying a "pendant to a moustache," said moustache belonging to a
worn-out title, and being in need of money to keep its ends waxed. Why,
girls, just think! a hundred thousand dollars for the privilege of being
called the wife of Monsieur le Comte de Rien, and of living, eventually,
in an attic on the outskirts of Paris!

Why is it that if a young man has not certain points of distinction
in the way he combs his hair, wears his collar, or affects the English
gentleman, some of the girls hesitate about receiving his attentions?

If they do finally accept his kindness, they feel obliged to excuse
his commonplace appearance, and exclaim to their friends apologetically,
"But, then, he is really good at heart, you know, and very agreeable!"
Oh, pride is a valuable characteristic sometimes, but is one of the
worst of evils when it tries to despise the ordinary.

Do you not think we should all be happier, girls, if we took more time
to appreciate the commonplace? I have observed in the lives of great
naturalists, that not only the stone which all other builders had
rejected became the head of the corner in their temple of knowledge,
but that the most patient observation of simplest things was the
material out of which the edifice was made. Thoreau wanted to account
for the fact that when a pine grove is cut down an oak forest often
grows up; so he went, each year, to visit a pine lot in Concord. In
his earliest observations he could see nothing except pines; but,
burrowing around in the leaf-mould, he found, at last, tiny oaks an inch
or two high. Year after year he visited the grove; still he could
observe no special growth of the oaks. Finally the grove was cut down.
Up sprang the tiny oaks, and flourished in the light and sunshine now
freely admitted to them. Thick and tall, they grew into a very forest,
and the pines had never a chance to rise up and crowd them out. Do you
think the naturalist's search stopped then? Oh, no! He next found out
how the tiny oaks came among the pines; he inquired into the habits
of squirrels as planters, into the character of winds and birds as
farmers and bundle-boys; and was at length able to account for the
succession of our forest trees.

The commonplace will never advance to meet us; but have faith in its
intrinsic merit, look for beauty, and you will find it. Could you
predict that from the plants lying in the stagnant pool such a perfect
flower as a lily would spring? If you were passing a low, thatched
cottage made of rough stone, its only pretence being a coat of
whitewash, would you guess it held a poet? And, if you were riding
along in a horse-car, interested only in the foreign-looking faces
and the remarkable clothes, would you be likely to know that a great
philanthropist sat beside you? No, not unless you had learned to observe
more wisely than most girls; and not unless you had found out the noble
worth of certain ordinary men and women whose faces are not pictured
in books, nor raised on medallions.

How cautious we ought to be in forming our judgments! Have you never
made the mistake of replying carelessly to one whom you thought was
stupid, but whom you discovered to be a person of marked ability? The
older we grow, the more we are amazed at our lack of good sense in
framing an opinion of those whom we meet. We are so frequently surprised
at what persons do or become, we feel we can never be sure that any
one is common, or of the every-day sort. We almost believe Novalis
speaks the truth when he says, "We touch Heaven when we touch a human
body." Let us remember then, girls, not to trust our first impressions.
In forming our judgments let us be very sure our knowledge is sufficient
to tell which are the sheep and which are the goats, before we begin
to separate them.

Just once more let me insist on the necessity of training the
observation for enjoyment of the commonplace. We call things stupid,
dronish, monotonous, because our faculties are not sufficiently
exercised to see any other qualities in them. Do you not suppose an
artist sees more in a birch swamp than we do? Is not even he likelier
to be successful in painting new wonders in the commonplace than in
trying to show objects we seldom see?

Have you never noticed Albrecht Durer's drawing of Praying Hands? Look
at a photograph of it, please. Is it not wonderful? We cannot describe
all the feeling those hands suggest. If you had passed them on the
street, you would not have noticed them, unless to remark that they
were grimy, perhaps, or lean. The great German artist saw them folded
in prayer, and heard all the language of a despairing soul as it came
out in the expression of those hands,--wonderful hands, "instinct with
spirit." Look at them again, girls.

We talked about commonplace duties when we spoke of work. Let me repeat
here that life is made up of commonplace deeds. We do not have great
national disturbances every day; and the surest proof that we have
greater need of common events rather than startling ones, ordinary
duties rather than extraordinary, is, that the moment we scorn an
ordinary occurrence, or omit a daily duty, we find ourselves and every
one else miserable, for a while, at least. We are stopping a part of
the machinery necessary to human happiness. Let us not despise the
lowliest duties. George Macdonald, the writer who has given strength
to the souls of so many people, was contented to write, "If I can put
one touch of a rosy sunset into the life of any man or woman, I shall
feel that I have worked with God."

Do you begin to think, girls, I would have you always prosaic, plodding,
self-satisfied, unambitious? Oh, no! do not understand me so. Why,
I believe that even dreaming about doing, and seeing, and having things
is sometimes very helpful, and not at all inconsistent with the
commonplace. It is almost necessary for some people to build
air-castles. They get more real pleasure in them than they would from
real castles on the Rhine, the Danube, or along the rivers of sunny
France. Have you never read Curtis's "Prue and I"?

Ah, how beautiful it is to be dreaming about a future, though it may
never come true!--to be floating on the sunset tide of Venice; to be
journeying over the passes of the Alps in summer, and always approaching
Mount Blanc; to be resting by the fountain in Alhambra's Court of Lions;
to be gazing at the Sistine Madonna in Dresden, or at the Ascension
in the Vatican; to be dosing in an orange grove in southern California;
to be awed by the deep canons of the Colorado, or to be filled with
the sublimity of the Yosemite!

How glorious to be dreaming of what we will do when we are women with
wills and purses all our own!--with long rows of books in our libraries,
elegant pictures in our drawing-rooms, and oh! such beautiful boudoirs,
all, all of our own; or, at least, a room which shall be a _sanctum
sanctorum_, where the fire on the hearth never smoulders, and where
loving friends, beautiful mementos, and peaceful thoughts make us always
happy. How fine to fancy longings achieved, and present desires

All dreams, yes; but they do sometimes come out better than true. The
only thing wiser than dreaming is doing,--working in such a way as
to bring the distant near, and getting out of the veriest commonplaces
the joy we fancied lay only in the future, in other lands, or only
in dreams.

Build castles and dwellings out of the commonplace, and you shall see
them shine with splendor, and glow with beauties which can never be
exhausted. She alone is rich who has estates in her soul.



Blues, dumps, megrims, odd spells,--do they ever visit you? Drive them
out of doors; chase them down the yard, over the fence, up the tree,
till they go riding off on their own broomsticks, or vanish in thin
air! If ever they come tapping on your window-pane again, don't open
the casement; but turn your backs, stop up your ears, laugh as loud
as you can, then seize the first piece of work which waits to be done.
These demons are afraid of a laugh; and when they have the least
suspicion that a smile wreathes the lips of a mortal, they will slink
away and coil up in remote corners. They are equally alarmed by work,
because it puts an armor of steel all over their opponents. This coat of
mail is absolutely impenetrable, though blue imps should hurl their
arrows of torture forever.

But, beware! Do not stop to think work and good cheer will put these
creatures to flight. Sing your song, laugh your laugh, and make work,
if none is at hand. Then only will these poor miserable prowlers shrivel
up and crawl under ground.

What are gloomy moods good for? What are they not bad for? Why are
we always making excuse for entertaining such company? If we are ashamed
of them, let's send them packing, as we would any disreputable visitors,
such as cheats, biting dogs, or poisonous insects.

How weak is our apology for enduring moods, when we blame some person,
long since dead, for handing down to us an inheritance of megrims!
We need not accept such a legacy, though of course we must fight very
hard to resist its allurements. It may be convenient enough to censure
inheritance for this or that oddity. Our grandmothers had strange
moods,--spoke to people on some days and did not speak on other
days,--so we have diligently doubled our bequest, and have spells odder
yet,--find our friends quite delightful for a week or more, and then as
distasteful for a still longer time.

The patrimony of evil can be, and will be, shamefully increased with
every new generation, if good sense, sound principles, and a cheerful
heart do not constantly defend the right and strive to annihilate
inheritance. I am not going to discuss this matter of inheritance,
girls, for there is much in it not well for us to consider at present.
We are simply to remember to preserve and increase the good left us,
and fight to the utmost all evil that may have come from ancestry.
Every girl has peculiar forms of temptation; and what is hard for one
to resist is easy for another to repel, because to the latter it is
no temptation. If moods, grim moods, are worth any thing to us, they
are simply worth conquering,--merely valuable for the strength we get
from their defeat.

Plainly, it is our selfishness, our indulgence, our idleness, our
vanity, which make us allow such wretched company within our walls.

See what wily creatures the _blues_ are!--full of conceit! They
grow powerful while looking at us. They are like those little wood
creatures which can take the hue of the tree on which they rest, so
that for a long time we do not perceive them. They sit beside us by
hundreds when we fancy we are alone; and change their colors and their
wheedling tones to suit our inclinations, while they pour into our
ears deceitful whisperings that the world is all wrong, and we are
all right,--the vile flatterers! They paint all our surroundings with
dark colors, make all our pictures Mater Dolorosas or St. Sebastians,
turn all our music into requiems, and all our books into Stygian epics.

I cannot think there is any thing much more destructive to human
happiness than the _blues_. I wonder how they ever came by their
name? It must have arisen from the weirdness of the tempest, from the
changing hues of the snake's skin and the lizard's back, from the blue
of sharp steel, from lighted brimstone, and from driving sleet.

Now, girls, why do you, of all people in the world, allow yourselves
to be mastered by freaks? Do you not have troubles? Of course you
do,--real troubles, which are full of pain and discouragement. Your
feelings are so acute, you are so susceptible, I do not see why a sorrow
should not be deep with you. But with your vigor, your pure affection,
your generous impulses, with all the future before you in which to keep
on trying, I cannot understand why you should hug such a phantom as
a mood. Just think again how dangerous gloomy moods are,--how bold!
Why, with the least hint at an invitation, they will come in, not for
a call, nor for one meal, but to stay and stay,--the impudent creatures!
And such despoilers as they are while they remain! They eat you out
of house and home, they even take away your own appetite,--the harpies!
They make you cross,--yes, ugly. They bring frowns, tears, and age
into your faces, and they banish all loveliness to the ends of the
earth. Oh, do _not_ let them in!

When you come home tired out, your energy all gone, your patience
exhausted, why,--rest. Do not think you are desolate, that everybody
has deserted you, and that fate, destiny, grim despair, are all after
you. You are tired and need to go to bed, or to engage in some light
talk which will rest you but at the same time occupy you. Read the
newspaper, build aircastles, hope with all the combined powers of your
fancy. If the clouds of misfortune pile up, and it pours bad
luck,--mother scolds because you did not sweep your room carefully;
father threatens because of an approach to familiarity with the new
young man over the way; brother frets because his stockings are not well
darned; lessons all went wrong in the morning; your best friend said a
careless word to you; you have broken the main-spring of your watch, and
spilt coffee on your new dress,--why, these are all trifles! I know a
good many bad trifles coming together are worse than a misfortune; but
the best way to prevent them from bringing on dejection is to let in
such a flood of light and determined cheerfulness as to drown out

Mr. Emerson, in an essay on "Behavior," tells a capital story about
a man who was so bent on being cheerful he put to shame the torments
of hell itself. "It is related of the monk Basle, that, being
excommunicated by the Pope, he was, at his death, sent in charge of
an angel to find a fit place of suffering in hell; but, such was the
eloquence and good humor of the monk, that wherever he went he was
received gladly, and civilly treated, even by the most uncivil angels;
and, when he came to discourse with them, instead of contradicting
or forcing him, they took his part, and adopted his manners, and even
good angels came from far to see him, and take up their abode with
him. The angel that was sent to find a place of torment for him
attempted to remove him to a worse pit, but with no better success; for
such was the contented spirit of the monk, that he found something to
praise in every place and company, though in hell, and made a kind of
heaven of it. At last the escorting angel returned with his prisoner to
them that sent him, saying that no phlegethon could be found that would
burn him; for that, in whatever condition, Basle remained incorrigibly
Basle. The legend says his sentence was remitted, and he was allowed
to go into heaven, and was canonized as a saint."

Do not give away one day to despair: better lose it in idleness. When
friends seem careless of you, when poverty encroaches, when suffering
ensues from wrongs others have done, when sickness or any kind of
calamity besets you, and when you are hunted to the verge of gloom,
cling to the ropes which hope suspends about you, and they will surely
pull you back from the abyss. These trials all have their uses.

And, pray, be mindful of the way you look at things. Do not try to
see evil: have on your kind eyes, magnify every dot of goodness. "In
all things throughout the world, the men who, look for the crooked
will see the crooked, and the men who look for the straight will see
the straight." [Footnote: Ruskin.] Try especially to see what is good
in your own lot. If you have not fine carpets, luxurious chairs, fresh
bouquets every morning, remember you can better appreciate a cane-
seated rocker when you are tired, a well-swept floor which has a rug
or two, and a single flower purchased with well-earned money.

As I suggested in the beginning, work is as sure a cure for dejection
as cheerfulness is. Why, I have seen one hour's solid labor eat up
all the blue tribe which had been hatching and hatching by millions.
Sometime will you read from Carlyle's "Past and Present" his chapters
on work, particularly that on "Labor and Reward"? Mr. Carlyle has
written much that is unintelligible to most readers. He has a very
grotesque, volcanic style not good to imitate. He is often sad and
hopeless about the human race, but he knew from hard experience what
work could do against despair. So, in spite of his ravings,
notwithstanding his eruptive style, and his sorrow for what is, he has
given us, in a masterly piece of prose, this noble "Gospel of Work."

His sentences, alive with enthusiasm, and terrible in their seriousness,
contain great reaches of thought, poetry, prophecy, like that of the
ancients; and all are full of the praises and rewards of labor.
"Consider how, even in the meanest sorts of labor, the whole soul of
a man is composed into a kind of real harmony the instant he sets
himself to work! Doubt, Desire, Sorrow, Remorse, Indignation, Despair
itself, all these like hell-dogs lie beleaguering the soul of the poor
day-worker, as of every man; but he bends himself with free valor
against his task, and all these are stilled, all these shrink murmuring
far off into their caves. The man is now a man. The blessed glow of labor
in him, is it not as purifying fire, wherein all poison is burnt up, and
of sour smoke itself there is made bright, blessed flame!" "Doubt of any
kind can be ended by action alone."

What makes us blame the weather so much for our moods, girls? The
day is gray everywhere,--in the skies, on the trees, in the air, on
the ground,--and gray in us therefore. Ah! but these gray colors are
beautiful, even in November and December. In their variety they are
soft and shimmering on the tree branches, a slightly ruddy gray on
the branchlets, and a serener gray on the tree trunks. Overhead, even
when a storm is gathering in the sky, there are the colors of the
moonstone tinting into silver, and shading into pearl and blue. On the
ground are delicate wood-colors,--umbers, siennas, greens toned down to
gray. The atmosphere, from its lack of sunlight, only sets off the more
visibly beautiful forms of trees and branches.

No, the day is not moody: we are. We are not in harmony with her, but
have arrayed our-selves against her. "When we are at one with Nature
we have great peace; when fretted and unmindful of her presence, we
are irritated, and out of our true element." In our megrims we have
found something whose defenceless condition we think ought to bear
the burden of our misery.

Well for you the weather affords a chance for an excuse; for a moody
girl on a bright June morning, when all Nature is radiant with beauty,
is the veriest parody on life,--worse than that, a sad mockery.

If you are very sensitive, do not censure yourselves too severely,
nor foster distrust; for the latter is worse for you than self-conceit.

Be sure to make the _blues_ as dangerous as possible; be always mindful
of their direful attacks.

Some one asks me, just here, if she is never to feel serious? Of course
she is to have very thoughtful hours! The merely gay, happy-go-lucky
kind of a girl is not the most helpful, nor the most valuable. There
is very deep happiness sometimes in thoughtfulness,--do you not know
it? What makes you quiet when you row in and out of the shadow-filled
coves along the river-border, or when you drift among the islands purple
with sunset light? What makes you want to shut your eyes, and to throw
away the mask of seeming, when some one sings the song you love? and
what makes you feel a kind of dead, low, dreadful pause, when the
reader's voice ceases, and the story conies to an end? Are you moody?
No; only resting. Your being is suspended in thought,--thought so
serious yet so delicate, so subtle, you cannot weave it into words.
Sometimes, to be sure, a girl who is determined to be morbid will
distort such serene feelings into moodiness; but, then, these sudden
spells of dejection are only distantly related to the real blue urchins.

Perhaps, girls, it will be better for you if you make up your minds
early in life that your lot will probably be about like that of the
average girl,--that trouble must come, and even a skeleton must hang
and gibber behind your door; but that, be the skeleton what it may,
you will nail the door back on the unsightly thing, clothe it in some
decent garments, and make it as respectable as possible in its niche,
since it must stay with you. Events, decrees, circumstances, will not
change for just you and me; but we can change ourselves, and so defeat
them. Do not mind untoward circumstances. "Seize hold of God's hand,
and look full in the face of His creation, and there is nothing He
will not enable you to achieve." A crust with contentment is better
than a pudding with the bitter sauce of discontent.

Oh, I know, girls, it sounds very much like dull preaching. But, really,
do we enjoy moods? Do we have any respect for ourselves while in them?
Aren't we always trying to blame some one else? Shocking business,
hunting up scape-goats!

Just see how you look when you have given place to these evils. You
respect beauty: you would resent any criticism on your personal
appearance at a party; but if one should truly describe how careless,
how unmindful of beauty in looks or beauty in disposition, how ugly
you are, when in this deplorably moody state, you would shun your very
self, and want to get out of your body somehow. You watch a girl who
has an attack of the megrims. She seems to hang from her shoulders,
or thereabouts; her nimbleness is gone; her muscles seem flabby; she
reels more than she walks; she picks up a book to let it fall down;
she will not look her neighbor in the face; the meaning has all gone
out of her eyes; her mouth is the only expressive feature; her lips
are either tightly pressed or curled in scorn; there is a don't-care
look all over her, and it lurks in the folds of her dress, in her
slouching hat, her unbuttoned coat, and in her shambling gait.

Sometimes the picture is quite the reverse. The muscles seem tense
and powerful. The eye is set and firm, ferocious in fullness. The step
is quick and heavy. The strength is doubled, and every object has to
yield to the ugliness which attacks it. The form appears to gather
passion more and more with each hour, till, at last, full of violence,
the human frame sways, heaves, and the girl breaks her mood into a
flood of scalding tears. The contest is fierce while it lasts. It is
dreadful to see beauty put on such deformity, but let us be thankful
it is soon over. If the lightning does not strike anywhere, perhaps
all will be clearer after the storm.

These violent squalls are not to be compared with those periods of
long, low mutterings, nor with those seasons of painful silence, hours
of uncertainty, which at times cloud so many girls. Why, the moods
of some persons are like yellow days, dark days, and judgment days.
A girl shuts herself up for an afternoon, for a day, for two days A
stone sepulchre is all about her, and she only reaches out of it when
she wants bread and water. She, herself, does not seem to be in her
body: she is a ghost. When we pass by her tomb-like body, perhaps a
head will nod to us, or lips will mutter monosyllables. If our dress
touches her garments we feel like begging pardon, A kind of horror
and at the same time a sort of pity invade us, yet we are paralyzed
and cannot help her. I hardly think the word is employed by
lexicographers with this meaning, and I apologize for using the
expression; but this kind of an odd spell is what I call _smudging_.

It seems so strange that a girl can use her will so powerfully about
controlling others, and yet remain herself the dupe of an unkind mood.
To be sure, there are causes for ill-humor arising nearly every day,--
ill-health, poverty, sorrow, cares that haunt and harrow, unaccomplished
desires, ungratified longings; but the indulgence of dejection, the
lack of resistance to a mood, only increase hardship. How is the doctor
to help your body, if you do not help your spirits? How are your
surroundings to be improved, if you do not go to work? How are you
to get work, if you do not seek it, and try with all your might to
find it? How is trouble to be lessened or endured, if from it we do
not reach to higher, nobler living? The way out of trouble is not
through despair. Hope unlocks the temple doors, Despair rusts the keys.
Each must know her own anxieties best; but the trials of all, we shall
sometime see, are but bitter on the outside, sweet and nourishing
within. Believe in the _sometime_.



There is something in woman fascinating to woman herself, and something
in a girl irresistibly attractive to a girl herself. Mere words being
unsufficient to express the emotion caused by this charm, a girl makes
use of a large force of ejaculations, utters her indescribable "Oh's!"
and "Ah's!" in every variety of crescendo and diminuendo, and emphasizes
her pitch with gestures that point her meaning, till not the slightest
doubt exists that she has been impressed by something wonderful. She
does not know, indeed, just what it is that makes Sallie Henderson
so delightful; but "Oh, she is per-fect-ly lovely!--too sweet for any
thing!" Now I think the quality which so attracts is womanliness, the
most desirable of all the gifts a girl is permitted to cultivate. All
the littlenesses in the social customs of girls; all their raw,
untrained, ungenerous acts, their indulgences, their prejudices, are
the weak and despised signs of unwomanliness.

Womanliness is not primness, let me be understood. The straight, smooth
hair, the folded hands, the demure face and exact deportment from ten
years of age to eighty, do not always indicate womanliness; nor does
the attempt to turn young girls into elderly women produce it. So many
patchwork quilts, so many hand-stitched shirt-bosoms, so many worsted
stockings, made before a girl is fourteen, are so many quilts, bosoms,
and stockings more than she will make when she is forty. Hours for
sewing, for helping in the home, for studying, are necessary to even
children, because industry, patience, application, and system must
be encouraged in earliest years; but the hours girls spend in the house
doing things neatly and in order, as their grandmothers did before
them, ought to be balanced by hearty exercise in the fresh air, by
seasons of mirth, and by freedom from restraint. The out-of-door
exercise, the gayety, the deliverance from tasks, are quite as necessary
for older girls as for younger ones.

There is a value to be placed on the very trappings of girlhood which
do not in the least interfere with womanliness. At sixteen or eighteen,
perhaps at twenty, a girl can toss a jaunty little felt hat upon her
head, pin it in a twinkling above her wayward hair, tie on a bit of
blue or red somewhere about her blouse, tuck in her handkerchief in
a pardonable way, brush her short walking-skirt into becoming folds,
tie up her tennis shoes, and there she is in five minutes, prettier,
fresher, more becomingly dressed than all the older women of the
household, who have been standing before the mirror trying this effect
and that for the last hour. Ask a girl how she does it, how she manages
to make her hat bend down and up, and in and out, in all kinds of
alluring ways, and she does not know,--it belongs to girls to do such
things. Of course it does! Whatever they do must be bewilderingly
charming sometimes, because they are girls. You know, when we buy
choice roses from the gardener, we are always particular to select
those just approaching blossom. A delicacy, and yet a richness of color
and fragrance are upon them; a brightness and yet a tenderness in
tone,--the bloom is there more soft and beautiful than in the fully
opened rose. That bloom and color, that tenderness and dreamy softness,
that richness and freshness, are yours, dear girls.

Yes, indeed! there is something charming in a girl simply because she
is a girl. It is in the ring of her laugh, in her irony, in her
frankness or her coyness, in the way she does the commonest things,--
puts on her scarf, or catches hold of your arm,--things that only too
soon disappear in conventionalities, ceremonies, and proprieties. But
there is no need of this change as concerns much that is now called only
girlish. The womanly element is the main quality to be nourished into
greater perfection, but only the weakness of girlishness is to be
excluded from character. Girls are to grow wiser, and to avoid what must
bring harm, but still to keep the attractive freshness of maidenhood.
Some of the most delightful women we meet are those who can be girls
with girls, and women with women. The young do not lose their respect
for them because they appreciate them, nor do elders lessen their regard
for these women because they have kept the loveliness of girlhood.

Girls, I am not trying to defend you: your girlhood needs no such
effort; but I do want to make you all feel that the very sweetness
of your natures, the loveliness of your lives and conduct, your
attractive grace, which ought to strengthen with years and become
something more than beautiful,--become divine,--is womanliness.

God did not make all the girls beautiful, strong, or intellectual;
but He did make them all capable of becoming womanly. You may well
doubt this ability the next time you see an intelligent and pretty
girl avoid the glance of a former friend who is now miserable and weak;
and you may question its very existence in the wretched and outcast
one. Ah! but who can judge, or even know, the inner life of one's past
acquaintances? It is not for you, nor for me, to slight, to scorn,
to condemn the fallen. Of this we are sure,--that no beauty, no
intelligence, can compare with womanliness; and that no girl, weak
and wicked as she may be, is utterly lost to a return to womanliness.
May I here appeal to you, dear girls, to hasten this return? May I
urge you not to slight even the sinful? As you are girls with most
precious endowments, remember to encourage the growth of these gifts
in other girls. Then will womanhood seem even more blessed than now,--
when girls defend it and purify it. A girl may have all the privileges
that a boy has; a woman, all the rights that a man now has in
excess,--pray, do not let us stand in the way of such favors!--but
the fact remains that "woman is not undeveloped man, but diverse";
and the one thing she owes to the world, to herself, to her Maker,
is a reverence for her own sex. Girls, I repeat, you cannot sufficiently
realize your obligations to your own kind. Because you are girls and
not boys, women and not men, oh, try to be loyal to girls and women!
Pay homage to womanhood; adorn it, place sacrifices upon its altars,
rejoice in unceasing service to it, exalt it by every worthy endeavor!

This reverence for woman is the first and truest step towards
womanliness. When this has not been taken, and a girl is therefore
unkind to her social inferiors out of fear of what rumor will say,--"the
fume of little hearts,"--I blush for an indecent girlhood, and I grieve
for an unpromising, unchristian womanhood. We know that encouragement,
not intimacy, the gentle rebuke of a bow or a greeting, are more helpful
to arouse the sparks of womanliness than the cold stare or averted
head. Next to the respect of woman for woman, comes the regard of woman
for man,--a deference (when physical, mental, or spiritual strength
in man demand) that is due from her who, constituted differently, has
greater power to pay respect and gratitude, to honor and love.
Gentlemanly boys and men have a right to expect you to be refined,
courteous, agreeable towards them in all the ways of ladyhood,--not that
they are your superiors, but your helpers: made after a different
pattern, but still your sincere friends.

The womanly in girls implies the lady, no doubt, more than the manly
in man indicates the gentleman. We ought always to find in girls that
gentleness and delicacy of manner, that minute attention to the comforts
of others, that visible respect towards others, so agreeable and so
refining in all circles. Marguerite de Valois wrote, "Gentleness,
cheerfulness, and urbanity are the Three Graces of manners." I believe
they bear a close relation to ladylike deportment.

All can acquire these habits of politeness and attention to others,
though they come not with ease to those of us whom unfavorable
surroundings continually influence. A woman in an almshouse, a girl
serving a ship's crew, can be a lady and not cost her masters more,
though her efforts cost her much.

But, valuing all that constitutes a lady, believing that these gentle
graces are necessary to every girl, I believe the ladylike is but a
part of true womanliness,--that infinitely precious, indescribable
something in woman that makes her royal by birth, queen of herself,
and fit to occupy the throne that is placed beside the king's throne,--
not higher, not lower, but beside it; not his, but like his; her own,
from which, with equal though with differing eye, she looks in blessing
on the world.

Oh, how, girls, shall we get this womanliness into our characters,
or, rather, how shall we make it shine out of them? If we stop to think
once in a while what it is, if we remember that it is unassuming as
it is beautiful, and only waits for our acquaintance, we shall the
sooner embrace it. And then, if we are reminded that it does not despise
common things, lowly homes, simple pleasures, any more than it does
benevolent acts, patient lives, and ordinary toils, we shall oftener
be found cherishing it. Let us remember that womanliness is in our
elders,--women like Susan Winstanley, of whom "Elia" tells in "Modern
Gallantry." You know she was cold toward her lover, and when asked
why, she replied she was perfectly willing to receive his compliments
and devotion, as was her right; but that, just before he came to pay
his regards, she had overheard him roughly rating a young woman who
had not been quite prompt with his cravats, and she thought what a
simple change of place might have caused, and said, "I was determined
not to accept any fine speeches to the compromise of that sex the
belonging to which was, after all, my strongest claim and title to

Let us remember that womanliness is in all the motherliness we see
in our mothers; that it is in all the sacrifices and noble deeds of
silent women, as well as in those of celebrated women, like Elizabeth
Fry or Mrs. Browning; that it is in the acts of all those who make
the ordinary home "like the shadow of a rock in a weary land," and
a "light as of a Pharos in the stormy sea." If we are impressed with
the remembrance that womanliness is in such and such characters, we
shall try harder to imitate them; we shall be more thankful we are
women, and more grateful that it belongs to us especially to impart
what man lacks, and what he must depend on us to supply.

Here, again, I want to emphasize the fact that womanliness does not
require a girl to abandon merriment, vigorous exercise of the body,
or brain, or heart, freedom in sports, and "a jolly good time." But
let us have every thing in its place. Kid-gloved hands in a huckleberry
pasture, or on a row-boat, would be as unbecoming to a girl, you will
agree, as a soiled collar in the school-room, or a dusty jacket in
church. We do not object to boys sitting astride a fence: it is rather
manly than otherwise, if they do not concoct a plan to tear their
clothes; but it does seem a bit out of the womanly way for a girl.
To be sure, there is not much difference between climbing fences and
many of the gymnastic performances for girls; but time and place must
be regarded. I should not frown if I heard a girl whistling, under
two conditions,--she must be a good whistler, and confine her musical
exercise to the woods. I think it is fine to see a girl go over a fence
without sticking between the bars, and it really is too bad to have
to be pulled through by an "I told you so!" It is fine to see a girl
play ball or tennis; to see her row or ride, or climb a tree when there
is need. But all this climbing, and striding, and shouting, womanly
enough at times, become most unwomanly under certain circumstances,
especially in the home.

Such indications go far to pronounce us loose in manner, immodest in
deportment, coarse and vulgar, where we are not understood. No girl
can afford to wilfully bring upon herself the criticism of bad manners.
She can afford to do right when she feels the world is wrong; but she
is accountable for her example, and the influence she exerts upon those
not as strong as she is. Beyond this lies the fact that womanliness
is opposed to mannishness, and that unwomanliness grows faster than
its virtuous opposite. "Ill weeds grow apace," says a German proverb.
One plantain in a garden will eat out not only the flowers in the plats,
but the very grass in the borders. Any thing that takes away from
modesty, refinement, gentleness, takes away from womanliness. Says
Beaconsfield, "The girl of the period,--she sets up to be natural, and
is only rude; mistakes insolence for innocence; says every thing that
comes first to her lips, and thinks she is gay when she is only giddy."

I sometimes think, girls, it is the motherliness in some of you that
often makes you womanly; not altogether the quality that makes little
folks hug their dolls,--not altogether that,--though, in their gentle
cares, their tender caresses and assumed anxieties, they are little
women in themselves; but I mean, too, the motherliness that makes girls
careful of others. It is an all-sheltering fondness; it is a delicate
superintendence over the comforts of another; it is a brooding thought
about the nestlings of one's heart, hearth, or associations; it is
a cultivated instinct that smooths out difficulties, and steps right
along beside purity and loveliness.

This characteristic of womanliness is not that weak, unsubstantial
quality which we sometimes associate with effeminacy.

I would not imply that womanliness does not exist in those women whom
superior talents have raised above the average man. A great lecturer,
after holding her audience long by her eloquent appeals for reforms,
stepped down into the crowd slowly departing, and earnestly inquired
after this sick friend, that poor one, and the prosperity of another.
The marvel of her womanliness was even more striking than the power
of her oratory.

As I said at first, girls, girlishness, while inferior to womanliness,
is no hindrance to it. It is most proper for girls to discuss tucks
and ruffles, gloves and boots, bangs and twists. They think about these
things properly enough, too, or they would not make such good use of
them. They are in no danger of becoming less worthy women, provided
they do not exclude thoughts on higher things. But girlishness,
construed to mean just a love of dress and finery, does not make
womanliness. If it did, every well-clothed girl on the street would be
virtuous. I confess, however, that it would require a good deal of
persuasion to make me believe that untidy skirts, buttons clinging by a
thread, or utter inattention to style, to neatness and wholeness, were
traits in a womanly woman.

We are told that true manliness and true womanliness are one and the
same. At some points, these qualities meet and mingle. In the strongest
parts of character, men and women are the same. In trying moments,
in hours of great interest, in times of rare experience, men and women
do the same work in the same way, and then the high quality which
ennobles their characters is human kindness. It is well that great
artists have painted the face of Christ so that it is as womanly as it
is manly. It is a beautiful way some persons have of thinking of God as
father and mother too.

But with all these resemblances of manliness to womanliness, there
is a difference which all may recognize if they will. Allow a boy to
stretch out his legs, climb spouts, jump gutters,--he is still perfectly
manly; but a girl cannot do these things in a community without censure,
unless necessity requires. I know that the custom which demands
different decorum for a girl is arbitrary, and not of divine origin. To
go unveiled is not allowed in some countries. But conformity is surely
enjoined upon us; and that, so far as it is reasonably observed, is
a really womanly trait. I cannot help thinking that girls are made
of finer material than boys, but of stuff that will wear just as well
as the stockier goods in boys. Inasmuch as a girl has more confided
to her keeping than a boy has, she ought to be so much the more
watchful. A girl ought to guard purity, modesty, patience, hope, trust,
because she has had these things given her in large measure.

What can there be more beautiful than womanliness! The next time you
see the Sistine Madonna, look behind all the mother in the lovely face
for the woman in it. Then see if you do not remark the same in Raphael's
St. Cecilia, and in the Venus de Milo, Wherever masters have succeeded
in painting the Virgin, notice, aside from the holy look,--if any thing
can be aside from that,--the womanly look. What is it which makes us
love some women's faces the moment we see them? Sometimes it is because
the loveliness of their character beautifies most ordinary features.
Sometimes it is because we expect them to do some very womanly deed,--to
heal us of diseases, to right wrongs, to defend causes, to uplift the
fallen. Girls are not all weak and uncertain, because they are girls.
No; they are strong and brave, and reliable in danger. The boiler of
a steam-yacht exploded; several girls were on board; the crew were
busy saving themselves; the girls, with an electric shock of
mother-care, jumped to save one another. They neither fainted nor
screamed, with one exception, which was a somewhat feeble serving-girl,
who was stoutly shaken and told to faint if she dared.

Perhaps you think that refinement and good education produce greater
womanliness than ignorance and low surroundings. So they do; but the
worst of circumstances, as we have already shown, cannot crush it.
There is much to be feared from over-refinement, or, rather, superficial
cultivation, which breeds selfishness, vitiates strength, encourages
false pride, enervates the whole life of a girl. Look at the girl half
clad, sleeping in the lazy sun that falls across her narrow doorway,
droning out life; now and then, in an hour of wakefulness, muttering
some coarse word. And then regard the over-cultured, the wrongly-bred
girl; the peevish, dictatorial, selfish, haughty miss of a certain
other door-way,--a parlor-way. The womanliness in both would not amount
to so much as is in one bright gleam from the eye of an Evangeline.

We cannot tell so much what womanliness _is_ in girls as what it _does_.
It lies mostly in the little acts they perform,--those things which are
so often done that we neglect to speak of their worth, and yet should
feel most sad without them. The humblest deeds, the oft-repeated ones,
form the beauty of characters and faces. They put beautiful lights into
girls' eyes, softness into their cheeks, and winsomeness into the whole
face. Then, too, deference to the feelings and notions of others has
much to do with the sweetness of womanhood. It cannot be wrong to read a
letter on the street, to shout to one's friend on the opposite side of
the way, to whistle to a horse-car driver; but, so long as these offend
preconceived notions of good manners, deference to the opinions of
others should forbid such habits.

Now let us see, just once more, what we mean by a womanly girl. Exact
attention to points of etiquette, gracefulness, accomplishments, proper
subservience to the will of others, do not of themselves make
womanliness; many more than these characteristics, and greater, are
needful. First of all, a girl must feel she is a woman, with a heart
to cultivate in its affections, restrain in its desires, curb in its
selfishness; with a mind to enrich by such means as shall promote its
best peculiarities, and supply its needs; with a soul to enlarge into
more generous impulses, and into the performance of more worthy deeds.
Such a girl looks practically, but at the same time cheerfully, on
life. She is willing to make the best and most of her lot, and, though
out of patience with it sometimes, is not always battling against

Discontent, to be sure, is as unmanly as it is unwomanly; but I fear
it is an ill more widely spread among girls than among boys. It is
an evil seed, and brings forth nothing but choking weeds and noxious
plants. No position, nothing that a girl can do, harms her, provided
she be womanly; therefore, choice of position cannot help, unless she
is sure she has power to do better in another place. Some servants
are more womanly than the women who employ them. We are all servants
to one another: each holds the mastery. Surely we must be novices before
we can be superiors. In one sense, servitude is an ornament; for
politeness is but a visible sign, of glad service. Surely, politeness is
a real property of womanliness.

A truly womanly girl is genuine in what she says and does. Avoiding
the bombast, the occasional coarseness of rougher natures, the self-
esteem, and the dictatorial manner, she yet says no, when she means
no. If that causes hurt, she is not slow to express her sympathy and
show her sorrow. She does not do things for effect, nor to arouse unjust

If we were to study the points of character that have made women
celebrated, we should find them within the power of any earnest girl
to obtain through great strength of womanhood. I mean those women who
have been the bravest, truest, tenderest, most loved by the world.
Philippa pleading with bended knee before Edward III. to spare the
lives of the men of Calais, Catherine urging her suit before Henry
VIII., Madame de Stael supplicating Bonaparte for her father's liberty,
Marie Antoinette ascending the steps of the scaffold, are but few of
the women of history who furnish us examples of highest womanhood.
Literature supplies as great illustrations: Antigone going to bury
her brother's ashes in spite of the king's threat to take her life;
Zenobia in chains in the midst of a great Roman triumph,--a woman still,
with firm though downcast eyes; Rebecca, in "Ivanhoe," standing on
the tower ready to give the fatal spring the moment Bois Guilbert should
approach with dishonorable purpose,--all furnish vivid pictures of
what strength of womanliness can accomplish. Simple traits caused their
noblest actions,--love, sympathy, tenderness, purity, bravery,
resolution, endurance; but these qualities, grown almost to their
utmost, make these women dear to us. It was not intellect, it was not
pride, it was not position; but it was the womanhood perfected in them
that enabled them to do their work, and enables us to love and follow

We are under the strongest obligations, girls, to our sex, ourselves,
and the world.



My dear girls, do not fancy that I am going to preach on friendship:
so wide a theme is beyond the scope of these little talks with you.
I simply wish to express a few old-fashioned opinions about girls and
their friends.

Though now and then I may seem to be talking about that which is less
than friendship, or that which means more, please understand I fully
recognize the fact that, though acquaintance, friendship, love, often
merge into one another by advancing steps of familiarity, they are
really three distinct qualities.--One's acquaintances are many, one's
friends comparatively few, one's lovers fewer yet,--or they ought to
be. Do you know, girls, you do suggest the most delightful subjects
for a talk! There is no such thing as resisting your attractive traits!
But I am going to say a few very plain things about what may not be
charming in you.

Girls feel very quickly. They are not in the least slow to comprehend
with the heart; in fact, it often seems as though that organ were
constructed with as much delicacy as is the Aeolian harp, which quivers
and utters sounds when the air just stirs about it. The most of you
are very emotional; and that quality of emotion, when it is pure, is
your blessing, and a part of the womanhood in you: it is the necessary
expression of your soul. I know the word emotional has not a pleasant
sound, and, in common use, implies lack of reason and want of control;
but it is a good word, and what it truly means is good. Feeling, or
the product of feeling, which is emotion, does for us what reason cannot
do,--it frequently causes faith where reason would destroy it. Do not
boast you are not emotional, and have no care nor sympathy for fine
sentiment; for this boasting is not laudable in a woman. The girl who
reasons more than she feels will make a calm philosopher, but a very
poor friend.

Though we are not to speak so much about God's highest gift to us,--
the power of loving,--I would like to show you just what feeling is
capable of doing. You know most girls have an affection for somebody
or something, and if that love is not bestowed on a friend, it will
be on a cause, an ambition, an absorbing desire. Hypatia, Joan of Arc,
Charlotte Corday, Florence Nightingale, Harriet Hosmer, Rosa Bonheur,
Mrs. Siddons, represent as much love for the causes they lived or live
for as did Vittoria Colonna for her husband, Hester and Vanessa for
Swift, Heloise for Abelard, Marguerite for Faust, Ophelia for Hamlet,
Desdemona for Othello, or Juliet for Romeo. These last, I repeat, were
bound in the cause of love not less than the former; and they all owed
their endeavors--their success, if they gained it--to the feelings
and emotions of their natures.

But the trouble is, girls, you do lack judgment in the management of
your feelings. It has been suggested by an able philosopher that persons
differ from one another principally in the amount of judgment they
possess. Really, you do not always bestow your friendship worthily,
but too often let your emotions master instead of guide you; then your
eyes become blind to every thing that is best for yourselves and your
friends: you get selfish, passionate, and demoralized.

Hold the reins of feeling in obedience to what is good and right, no
matter what the suffering is which follows. Do you remember how Irma
loved the king in that grand struggle for character which Auerbach
paints "On the Heights," where the full, rich nature of Irma, so capable
of loving, so prone to err, yearns for the fulfilment of her longing,
yet will not yield an inch of conscience when once she knows it is
wrong for her to love? You know she dies struggling, but it is on the
heights, where, Goethe tells us, "lies repose." There are many and
many women martyrs who go to their graves unknown, suffering no pangs
of the Inquisition, the gallows, or the guillotine, but tortured by
unrequited affections,--by a love which it was not possible to gratify
without a loss of principle or a sacrifice of conscience. Is it not
better to break one's heart than to break one's soul?

My dear girls,--I would not say it were I not obliged to do so,--you
seem the least conscientious in making friends, rarely thinking how
grave and yet how sweet a joy a friendship is. In the first place,
you seize upon a friendship as though it were something to be worn
already made, like a new bonnet which pleases you. No matter what the
girl is, she suits your present whims; so your swear an eternal
friendship with her, when you do not begin to realize that real
friendship depends upon time and growth,--that it consists largely in a
mutual finding out of two persons.

Then, again, you frequently choose friends for some material advantage
to yourselves. Do you think you ought to do that? You see something
in a girl which you believe will promote your interests: perhaps she
is in society a good deal; maybe she is very bright and sharp at
repartee; possibly she is stylish, and absorbed in dress; perhaps her
father has money, or she has an eligible brother,--at any rate, she can
advance your purposes in one way or another, so you presume to make her
your friend. Now you know you ought to value friendship for just its
sake alone. If you are to make a friend, do so because you cannot
honestly help it, and no strong reason exists why you should help it.

Naturally, like chooses like: some point of beauty, some mark of
excellence, some trait of character, will draw us to another, because
these things exist in ourselves, though undeveloped, or because we
wish them to so exist; so friendship will spring up and flourish till
it ripens into love. This is the best and most loyal way of making
friends; and, if this be called choice, indulge in it, though not from
any material profit you are to get, but simply because you are fond
of one who is worthy of the best you can give her.

Then you will see that, if a girl and her traits were lovable when
she and you were school-mates, they deserve to be loved still: then
a year after graduation you will know the girl when you meet her on
the street, and recognize her as you did in school. Girls and boys
do not change so completely after leaving school. Eleanor, though in
plain clothes washing up the kitchen-floor, is Eleanor still; and Frank,
though only patching fences, is still Frank. Changes in circumstances
and in ourselves sometimes prevent the keeping of a friend, and we
no longer find friendship in the places where we used to seek for it;
but inconstancy in ourselves is a greater enemy to the holding of a
friendship than any external circumstance.

One great reason why certain girls of good parts remain in the same
position in which their ancestors had lived--struggling with poverty,
with bad tempers, with an indifferent lot, and wrestling with a savage
discontent--is because they are not encouraged to any thing better
when they get out of school. The free institutions of learning in the
United States begin a noble work of co-education and co-friendship;
but, when these are passed, there remains nothing to continue the work.
A black pall falls between the past and the future, and strives to
cover the very memory of bygone school years. Money, influence,
position, make havoc, striving in the freest land to set up classes and
aristocracies separated from what is common by impassable barriers,--as
though there were any other aristocracy than that of character and
personal worth!

Ought girls to have intimate friends? How carelessly we use that word
"intimate." Well, this is a very trying question, and needs a careful
answer. Says Mr. Alger, "School-girl friendships are a proverb in all
mouths. They form one of the largest classes of those human attachments
whose idealizing power and sympathetic interfusions glorify the world,
and sweeten existence. With what quick trust and ardor, what eager
relish, these susceptible creatures, before whom heavenly illusions
float, surrender themselves to each other, taste all the raptures of
confidential conversation, lift veil after veil, till every secret
is bare, and, hand in hand, with glowing feet, tread the paths of
Paradise!" But what do you mean by "intimate"? If you understand by
that word entire confidence in another under all circumstances; an
unbosoming of every thought and feeling; a complete surrender to your
friend, or mastery over her; a slavish adoration of her, and hearty
concordance in all she does,--do not, then, indulge in an intimate
friendship. The majority of women who have passed middle life will
utter, out of their own experience, the truth that such confidence,
such intercourse and familiarity, cause regret; and that such
friendships are seriously detrimental to human happiness, wearing the
mind, grieving the spirit; they cannot continue for many years. Our
elders go even beyond that, and say that woman cannot love woman as
woman can love man. Why is it that the friendships of boys usually last
longer than those of girls? I cannot believe it is because girls are
less constant or less friendly: I know they _are_ not. Can it be because
boys are less sensitive, and more sufficient for themselves? or is it
because they are less intense, less confidential, and move along more
slowly and suspiciously? Does it ever come from peculiarity of
temperament in the case of both boys and girls, there being girl-boys
and boy-girls? I am inclined to think that, because a boy is a boy, and
a girl is a girl, the characteristics of both are required to make a
perfect friendship. Of course there are broad exceptions to this

Can you have more than one intimate friend among the girls? That
depends, too, on the nature and degree of closeness in the friendship.
It requires a large amount of generosity on the part of several when
two persons are close friends of a third. That blissful "_solitude
a deux_" becomes misery _a trois_. The world is indeed beautiful, and
the best part of it all is the people in it. We are to love as many of
them as we can, but are called upon to reveal our inmost selves to few,
very few, friends.

Valuing friendship more than any other earthly blessing, I think it
wrong for girls to encourage that moodiness which flatters them they
can do without friends, especially of their own sex. Nothing can conduce
more to happiness: nothing is brighter, more charming, more helpful
than the interchange of friendship among young women. Who wouldn't
be a girl always if she could be sure all the other girls would stay
so too, and go on in that delightful exchange of affection and fine
feeling which is the very ecstacy of living?

Now, what does a girl prize most in another girl whose friendship she
enjoys? or, rather, what should she value in her most? In the first
place, constancy,--a knowledge that her friend will always be hers;
and then honesty,--a feeling that, if she says, "Now, don't you tell,"
the friend won't tell. By the way, this binding to secrecy is a very
bad practice, however delightful. It places too great a responsibility
on one's friend, leads her into temptation, makes her curious, and,
in nine times out of ten, one has no right to tell one's self, or one
would not be so cautious.

Honesty implies more than this, however: it demands that your friend
shall not herald abroad your mistakes or improprieties, though she
may disapprove of them. It means that she shall treat you with the
same kindness on all occasions, and that she shall resent wrong done
you by another.

You like a girl who does not criticise unjustly, nor gossip about her
friends. Marcus Aurelius, in his meditations, says, "A man must learn
a great deal to enable him to pass a correct judgment on another man's
acts." And Arthur Helps, in his essay, "On the Art of Living with
Others," exclaims, "If you would be loved as a companion, avoid
unnecessary criticism upon those with whom you live." Gossip is a most
dangerous kind of criticism.

You prize a girl, too, who can like you even when she is not fond of
your surroundings. An honest friendship does away with all jealousy,
and makes each proud of the other's acquirements. "I must feel pride
in my friend's accomplishments as if they were mine, and a property
in his virtue." [Footnote: Emerson.]

Girls are not sufficiently inclined to help girls. Think of the shadows
which cross your path which some dear girl's hand could chase away.
You would not drive the bird from your window-sill when he daily comes
for crumbs, nor let a kitten stand mewing in the cold. Do not withhold
the charity of your friendship from the hungry, dreary girl who waits.
When the helping hands and generous hearts of such benefactors as every
city knows,--women whose names are familiar to us as synonyms of
charity, wisdom, rightness, but whose names we here repress because
publicity would detract from the modesty of their conduct,--when such
women stretch out hands of benefaction to their poor, ignorant, wicked
sisters in our great towns, sparing something from their purses, from
their minds, from their comforts, we wonder what must be the gift of
their friendship to their more immediate friends. Here and there we meet
humbler women, girls of fair intelligence and generous hearts, who
give of their leisure, when they have no money, to help all objects
of moral or spiritual wealth to woman. What must their friendship be
to their friends! Something of immense value. Would there were more
such engaged in a like work for the spreading of this broad friendship
among women as women.

When a girl finds something of friendliness to give, the objects of
her favor find much to receive. A blessing increases most rapidly while
passing from possessor to recipient. The highest endowments should
not, and do not, shut out a real need of reciprocal friendship in the
hearts of girls. The larger your natures are, the greater will be your
demand for friends. Do not be afraid you have not the talent of being
friendly, even to the most gifted. A woman's greatest need, if she
will confess it, is large-hearted sympathy,--is friendship. That one
who withholds it, who seeks not friends, is fighting against herself,
is lonely and dreary, notwithstanding the fact that she has great
capabilities; for one of the most essential elements of her nature
is being starved. The mightiest cannot stand alone. Mme. Swetchine,
Marian Evans, Mme. De Stael felt, even more than most women, the
absolute need of a friend. I can imagine nothing drearier than to be so
far superior, in mind or in position, to one's associates as to feel no
friendship for them. Milton, sitting with his daughters, yet not
comprehended, is to me one of the saddest pictures of a great mental
endowment and an unsatisfied heart. Would not Elizabeth have given
years of her life and reign for the possession of one true friend?
It is an extremely rare thing to hear of a woman hermit, or recluse.
Girls give themselves up to nunneries, and believe they shut out the
world; but they are either seeking the friendship of a cause supremely,
or are hugging the closer an earthly, though a disappointed, love.

It is not weak, as Grace Aguilar suggests, for women to love women,
girls to love girls. "It is the fashion to deride female friendship,
to look with scorn on those who profess it. There is always, to me,
a doubt of the warmth, the strength, and purity of her feelings, when
a girl merges into womanhood, looking down on female friendship as
romance and folly."

It makes no difference who you are, girls, you need friends among all
classes and ages of persons. Sometimes it is the little child who can
give friendship best; sometimes it is the woman bowed with years; often
it is she whose years, surpassing yours by ten or twelve, have brought
her into the midst of that experience on which you are just entering.
Surely you must always need the sweet exchange of feeling which takes
place between girls and girls.

We remark the countless friends we have in Nature; but beautiful,
ennobling and comforting as the trees, the streams, and long green
meadows are, you cannot afford to give up flesh and blood friends for
them. Nature can improve you, but you cannot help her; but the true
value of friendship is the mutual benefit to be derived from it.

In the highest sense, this benefit relates not only to the heart, but
to the mind and soul. It is indeed possible for the ignorant, the
unambitious, the unrefined to be firm friends. We hear of true and
lasting friendships existing in peasant life. The rough, barren
mountain-ways of the Scotch Highlands, the coast villages of France,
the vinelands of Germany, the low flats of Holland, the desert of
Africa, the vast plains of America, have furnished the most pathetic
examples of sincere friendship, even though found among the most
uncivilized. Surely, when refinement is added, the blessing should
increase and not diminish, as it so often seems to do. The wigwam of the
Indian is a truer protection for friendship than the gilded walls of
many a drawing-room.

Oh, girls, this is what hurts and soils your characters,--this drawing-
room insincerity, this falseness, this seeming! You can be polite and
honest too; agreeable, and faithful as well. Significant glances, unfair
advantages, uncivil pretensions in the parlor, make you not only
insincere, but suspicious that you, also, are being ogled and scanned
by others. Girls have contributed to make society false when they might
have made it true. That society is insincere to you you will hardly
deny, if poverty, sickness, or any misfortune thrust you from it. But
society we must have. Why not, then, do your part to make it nobler,
friendlier, truer? Much depends on the effort every girl makes to
improve the social condition of the community.

Though you are so often indiscreet, fickle, ungenerous in your
friendships, girls, I believe in them. When I see a party of you come
together, so glad to be with one another again, giving and taking,
after the most lavish fashion, I want to say, "Yes, indeed!" to Mr.
Alger's remarks about school-girls; though I would leave off the word
school, and make his expressions apply to girls everywhere. "Probably
no chapter of sentiment in modern fashionable life is so intense and
rich as that which comes to the experience of budding maidens at school.
In their mental caresses, spiritual nuptials, their thoughts kiss each,
other, and more than all the blessedness the world will ever give them
is foreshadowed."

To sustain this friendship, I repeat, there are very necessary demands
upon your patience, your charity, and your constancy. "The only way
to have a friend is to be one," issues from the oracular lips of the
Concord seer. "Men exist for the sake of one another. Teach them, or
bear with them," is an appeal which has been handed down the ages from
the wisdom of that great "seeker after God," Marcus Aurelius.

Next to constancy in our fondness for others should come forbearance
and conformity. We ought to forbear inflicting the discomfort of our
peculiarities on our friends, or of requiring too much love for what
we give,--too much intelligence to meet our mental acquirements. We
should forbear asking for a change of opinion, or an unsettling of
conviction, and certainly should refrain from making a bad use of our
intimacy with one another. Be deaf and dumb and blind to all attempts
to draw from you the secrets which another has committed to your charge.
Conformity is no less important than forbearance. We should adapt
ourselves more to the tastes, habits, and dispositions of our friends.
Of course, we are not to comply with what will work them and us harm.
Girls agree to certain customs in the main; dress as their mates do;
and, if this or that fashion prevails, follow it, when it is not too
ridiculous,--perhaps some do even when it is absurd. When the majority
of girls wear bangs and bangles, you wear them; and when the most wear
skirts somewhat less than two yards around, why, I suppose you do,
don't you? That is all right; but let it never be forgotten that, in
conforming to general usage, you may still preserve your own
personality. When bustles and French heels jostle with your
individuality, let them go, but save yourselves.

How is it we so easily follow after fashion and custom, suffer physical
and mental pangs on account of them, and yet find it so hard to conform
with the notions and individual traits of our friends? Just here,
however, we are reminded that we are not to so agree with our friends,
even, as to lose ourselves. Says Arthur Helps on this point, "If it
were not for some singular people who persist in thinking for
themselves, in seeing for themselves, and in being comfortable, we
should all collapse into a hideous uniformity.... In all things, a man
must beware of so conforming himself as to crush his nature, and forego
the purpose of his being." And Emerson might have added to that thought,
"Better be a nettle in the side of your friend than his echo."

Conformity enjoins compromise. Fewer would be the great national
calamities of war, famine, hard times; fewer the domestic trials; fewer
the broken hearts, were there more of compromise in the world,--were
there less cultivation and indulgence of certain national or personal

Girls ought never to be so familiar with one another as to forget to
be polite in their intercourse. Courtesy, the last best gift of
chivalry, the one bright star of the Middle Ages, leads out a long array
of thoughts; but we cannot stop to marshal them here. Politeness is
never superfluous. It needs to become so much a part of the costume of
character as never to be laid aside except for renewal. Surely we should
show its brightest ornaments, and the durability of its fabric, to
our friends and acquaintances.

Let us seek friends, not wait for them to come to us. Let us search
for them, not with boldness and indiscrimination, but with a hearty
good-will to help them and enjoy them, as we, in return, expect them
to do us good, and be glad of us. It is a duty on our part to seek
and to keep friends, and no occupation should be so absolutely
engrossing as to prevent the performance of this duty.



I have discovered an incompleteness, girls, in my talk with you about
your friends, and I feel very depressing qualms of conscience on account
of my discovery. Why, I haven't said one word about the friendships
of boys and girls. Do pardon me! There really is an excuse. The fact
is,--shall I speak it right out loud? No, it might be too dreadful.
Come close, girls, and I will whisper it in your ears,--I am an old
maid! Isn't that deplorable? I have lost one-half the pleasure there
is in friendship, and, perhaps, you think, all there is in love. Yes,
'tis true: I am one of the superfluous sixty thousand women who are
usurping the population in a small state. I had better go to the far
West, and settle in the gold diggings, hadn't I?

So, girls, you do not suppose that, in a condition of such positive
ignorance, I am able to talk with you about the boys? Well, I will
be very discreet, and only suppose, gently suppose, that such a thing
as friendship exists among boys and girls. But if I should venture
on the subject of marriage, which, I am told, often ensues from
something akin to friendship, you will please pardon me, and remember
that, if I am too old to be talking about it, you are too young to be

In such a peculiar civilization as ours, you cannot be really getting
married at eighteen. But you may be thinking about marriage. Oh, yes!
girls think a great deal about it at that age. Perhaps I did when I
was eighteen; but that was so long ago, so very long ago! Still, for
present purposes, we will imagine I was once a girl, and thought more
or less about the boys, and liked them, too, just as you do now.

Oh, do not be so sure, you very bashful or very independent few, that
you do not care a fig for the boys, and never shall! If you feel a
kind of indifference now, or cannot see what boys are for, unless to
try their sisters, and act conceited and foolish with the other girls,
you may be on the verge of discovering that they are extremely good
for loving.

Isn't it remarkable how boys change? Why, you are so suddenly impressed
that Tom Sydney is not half as rude as he used to be! Indeed, he has
grown very polite,--he lifts his hat in such a deferential way; he
speaks with so manly a tone; he has a touch of such gentlemanly, half-
alluring kindness when he helps you over the crossing! Strange, one's
neighbors do alter so! Yes, it is a little remarkable; but it is on
both sides of the street,--girls as well as boys.

It is not the freshman year in college, nor the first month in business,
nor the first term at an evening dancing-school, which produce the
change in the boys. It is not graduation, nor parties, nor house-keeping
responsibilities, which make such a change in girls. No; but it is a
very beautiful unfolding of the decrees of God which makes boys and
girls love one another.

But, girls, even if your mind is set on celibacy, and you feel able
to set off by contrasting charms the bliss of matrimony, encourage
the friendship of the boys. You need their friendliness just as they
need yours. You require their steadiness of purpose, their decision,
their frankness, their slower judgment, their more robust endeavor,
their courage and hardihood. They need your keener perception of right
and wrong, your forbearance, your refinement of feeling, your
encouragement, your sympathy, your patience and endurance, your tact,
your gentleness and grace. The boys, you see, have the advantage of
giving you more than you can give them; and you have the advantage
of imparting to them more than they can impart to you. And, pray, what
is friendship but a mutual giving and taking of the best parts of
character? And how, indeed, can boys and girls grow in character without
friends? Do not fancy the boys like in you qualities differing from
those the girls are most fond of. Very young boys may, or very unworthy
men. A twelve-year-old thinks girls are "no good,"--can't fly a kite
without letting go the string, and can't play ball without hitting
him on the head with a bat. A fifteen-year-old thinks girls will do
for some occasions, especially if the girls are his sisters. They can
fasten neck-ties very well, and save a fellow a good deal of
embarrassment at dancing-school. He wishes they wouldn't be such tell-
tales, though. But an eighteen-year-old, or a youth of twenty, cannot
conceive any thing more adorable than the winning ways of girlhood.

A boy likes a girl sometimes, just as you girls too often like each
other, because she is pretty, or bright, or pert. He is fond of a girl
at other times because the beauty of her character reveals itself in
all kinds of womanly acts. If he marries, he usually meets the deserts
of whatever fondness he cherishes. He may be happy for a while in
association with a pretty face, a saucy tongue, and a becoming costume;
but not for long,--not for long.

While you are never to forget that you are young women, and that you
owe large tributes to girls everywhere, do not exact consideration
from the boys merely because you are girls. The boys never think of
asking you to favor them. Though you are privileged to demand courtesy,
that should not prevent you from engaging in honest toil with boys,
or from associating with them in harmless pleasures. A boy appreciates
it when a girl takes hold and helps to row, to rake, or to add accounts.

I think it is extremely commendable when a boy and girl can study
together, work in the factory at the same bench, drive or walk with
one another, and are not foolishly conscious that he is a boy and she
is a girl. It is a pleasure to see a girl look at a boy without
blushing, and to observe a boy look into a girl's eyes without
immediately lowering his lashes.

Why is this susceptibility? It is not because boys and girls are always
to fall in love when they meet. Every girl has a work to do for the
boys,--some traits in their characters to discountenance, some features
to encourage. How can she do this, if she is always thinking, Maybe
he loves me? Work with the boys she must: join in merry-making and
in whimsical enjoyments, why should she not? but in her gayest moment
let her be mindful, not of a difference in sex, but of the fact that
both a boy and a girl owe deference to each other, courtesy, kindness,
and conformity, as of friend with friend.

It is quite possible for young women to have friends among the young
men without this friendship developing into a strong affection. You
do not know, girls, how valiantly you are defended by the boys. Boys
are usually such uncommunicative creatures! But touch their friendship,
and they will throw a volley of rhetoric right in among a crowd of
gossipers. Slow to receive favors from you, as they sometimes seem,
they never forget a kindness done by you.

Now suppose your association with boys does sometime grow into a love
for a young man,--just suppose the case. Ought you to marry him? Of
course I don't know: I am not capable of advising, on account of my
singularity. I might tremblingly suggest, however, that love, health,
and virtue having been seriously contemplated, there should be few,
if any, hindrances to marriage; for out of this trinity will spring
patience, courage, industry, joy, and all that is needful to united

If you think my suggestion lacks the significance of experience, why,
hunt up some of the best authorities on the subject. William Penn was
a very moral kind of a man, and experienced in the art of living; and,
like a true Quaker, he put a negative wherever one was needed. He said,
"Never marry but for love, but see thou lovest what is lovely." Only
two conditions, you note; but on them hangs the destiny of all the
future. It is certainly right for you to think of marriage, to regard
it joyfully, yet so as with a serious joy. But girls, dear girls, do
not inflame your hearts with the visions of married life which are
so frequently delineated in the prevalent fiction of the day. You will
be happier without all that extravagance of romantic affection which
fills circulating libraries. Do not read the trash: it will make you
expect too much; it will make real life seem insignificant; it will
cause you to be more and more susceptible in the presence of young
men; it will blot leaves in your book of life which ought to be all
white; it will make truth fictitious; it will lead to temptation,--to
death. Says Miss Yonge, "If every modest woman or girl would abstain
from such books as poison, and never order or read one which makes
crime and impurity prominent, or tampers with dilemmas about the
marriage vow, there would be fewer written and published, and less
wildfire would be spread abroad." Shun the romances which centre all in
a false, unnatural affection. Oh, that they were all sunk in the ocean,
the food for obscene sharks! And, oh, that only such pure and beautiful
romances remained as picture the lives of a Hermann and a Dorothea,
or a Gabriel and an Evangeline!

But, girls, how some of you do treat the boys! No wonder they grow
conceited: you allow them to become so. Here is a girl only eighteen
years old who has an impression, such a strong impression, there is
but one praise-worthy act for a girl to do, and that is to get married.
Each new birthday will frighten her, and she will dread to be alive
and single at twenty-five. She seizes every matrimonial opportunity,
and haunts a young man like a conviction of conscience.

Here is another girl quite absorbed in the thought that a _live_
man pays her certain attentions, and she takes his conceit for grave
wisdom, and his kindness for infinite tenderness. She looks upon him
as an importation from the priesthood of the Grand Llama,--perhaps
he is the Grand Llama himself; certainly the inhabitant of a land where
young men do not grow humanly. He is a _rara avis_, a glorious
phenomenon, a marked consideration in the world, a being to be devoutly
gazed at to come to some appreciation of him.

I feel you are berating me, girls, so far as your natures will allow;
but, then, do I not speak the truth? Could I not unfold pitiful stories
about girls who marry fine wedding receptions and the servitude of
reverses? about young women who are vain enough to think there can
be no union of hearts without union of intellects, and so lay snares
for college students? Could I not picture to you the _mariage de
convenance_ in America? And could I not describe the marriage of
a jilt?

I cannot too earnestly repeat that marriage is the common and acceptable
destiny of both boys and girls; but I must complain because girls do
not regard it sufficiently before they enter into it. In the distress
which follows their hastiness, in the despair which sometimes hardens
their hearts, women call marriage a lottery, and man faithless.

I must think that marriage is not only a very natural, but a very
beautiful, way of increasing love.

"Love is the burden of all Nature's odes,--the song of the birds an
epithalamium, a hymeneal. The marriage of the flowers spots the meadows,
and fringes the hedges with pearls and diamonds. In the deep waters,
in the high air, in woods and pastures, and the bowels of the earth,
this is the employment and condition of all things." [Footnote:

"God has set the type of marriage everywhere throughout the creation.
Each creature seeks its perfection in another. The very heavens and
earth picture it to us." [Footnote: Luther.]

Youths and maidens, you are in the heyday of vigorous, joyous life!
Your delight is, like the springtime, rich in hope and promise. Your
laugh rings true; your voices mingle in frolic glee, or in quiet tones
of kind regard. Now join hands in the glad though earnest work of
life,--not life's drudgery, not its toils. No! for the cheer of your
spirits, the courage which looks despair full in the face, and crushes
it with lively endeavor,--these will permit no drudgery; these will
make out of the most desolate moorland a very garden of life!

You can do _all_! Now make the earth renew its vigor; now make
health and courage come again in the world; now restore the reign of
cheer; now break the bonds of vice; now bring back an earthly Paradise!
With your strong bodies, your glad hearts, your vigorous minds, your
imperial sway over the hearts of one another, your persuasive control
over the feelings of your elders, it is for you to make the future
what you will. Oh, make it the dawn of that civilization, of that
Christianity, when again "the morning stars shall sing together!"

Only you can restore virtue; only you can cast out corruption; only
you can drive the fiends of intemperance, of fraud, of oppression,
of despair, of craftiness, of selfishness, from the land!

Girls, in the great work of the future, in the reformation of the
present, can you not do most? When woman was thrust out of Paradise,
man followed her. When she shall return again, and the gates shall
swing open on noiseless hinges at the approach of her pure feet, man
shall be seen, not following, but walking by her side.

Raphael and Guido have painted the angel Michael with a beautiful
maiden's face, though his body is muscular, and his wings are tipped
with strength, while, firm as a Hercules, he stands upon the writhing
coils of Satan. The Devil but turns his coward head to look with
vanquished strength upon the clear, calm smile of the angel. Maidenly
love of what is pure, of what is brave, of what is manly, will crush
the evil in youths who are tempted; yes, and make from an Adam of mere
muscle and intelligence a very god of virtue.

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