Saturday, August 29, 2009

1. To Be a Woman, in the truest and highest sense of the word is to be the best thing beneath the skies. To be a woman is something more than to live eighteen or twenty years; something more than to grow to the physical stature of women; something more than to wear flounces, exhibit dry goods, sport jewelry, catch the gaze of lewd-eyed men; something more than to be a belle, a wife, or a mother. Put all these qualifications together and they do but little toward making a true woman.
[pg 27, ToC]

2. Beauty and Style are not the surest passports to womanhood—some of the noblest specimens of womanhood that the world has ever seen have presented the plainest and most unprepossessing appearance. A woman's worth is to be estimated by the real goodness of her heart, the greatness of her soul, and the purity and sweetness of her character; and a woman with a kindly disposition and well-balanced temper is both lovely and attractive, be her face ever so plain, and her figure ever so homely; she makes the best of wives and the truest of mothers.

3. Beauty Is a Dangerous Gift.—It is even so. Like wealth, it has ruined its thousands. Thousands of the most beautiful women are destitute of common sense and common humanity. No gift from heaven is so general and so widely abused by woman as the gift of beauty. In about nine cases in ten it makes her silly, senseless, thoughtless, giddy, vain, proud, frivolous, selfish, low and mean. I think I have seen more girls spoiled by beauty than by any other one thing, "She is beautiful, and she knows it," is as much as to say that she is spoiled. A beautiful girl is very likely to believe she was made to be looked at; and so she sets herself up for a show at every window, in every door, on every corner of the street, in every company at which opportunity offers for an exhibition of herself.

4. Beware of Beautiful Women.—These facts have long since taught sensible men to beware of beautiful women—to sound them carefully before they give them their confidence. Beauty is shallow—only skin deep; fleeting—only for a few years' reign; dangerous—tempting to vanity and lightness of mind; deceitful—dazzling of ten to bewilder; weak—reigning only to ruin; gross—leading often to sensual pleasure. And yet we say it need not be so. Beauty is lovely and ought to be innocently possessed. It has charms which ought to be used for good purposes. It is a delightful gift, which ought to be received with gratitude and worn with grace and meekness. It should always minister to inward beauty. Every woman of beautiful form and features should cultivate a beautiful mind and heart.

5. Rival the Boys.—We want the girls to rival the boys in all that is good, and refined, and ennobling. We want them to rival the boys, as they well can, in learning, in understanding, in virtues; in all noble qualities of mind and heart, but not in any of those things that have caused them, justly or unjustly, to be described as savages. We want the girls to be gentle—not weak, but gentle, and kind and affectionate. We want to be sure, that wherever a girl is, there should be a sweet, subduing and harmonizing influence of purity, and truth, and love, pervading and hallowing, from center to circumference, the entire circle in which she moves. If the boys are savages, we want her to be their civilizer. We want her to tame them, to subdue their ferocity, to soften their manners, and to teach them all needful lessons of order, sobriety, and meekness, and patience and goodness.
[pg 28, ToC]

6. Kindness.—Kindness is the ornament of man—it is the chief glory of woman—it is, indeed, woman's true prerogative—her sceptre and her crown. It is the sword with which she conquers, and the charm with which she captivates.

7. Admired and Beloved.—Young lady, would you be admired and beloved? Would you be an ornament to your sex, and a blessing to your race? Cultivate this heavenly virtue. Wealth may surround you with its blandishments, and beauty, and learning, or talents, may give you admirers, but love and kindness alone can captivate the heart. Whether you live in a cottage or a palace, these graces can surround you with perpetual sunshine, making you, and all around you, happy.

8. Inward Grace.—Seek ye then, fair daughters, the possession of that inward grace, whose essence shall permeate and vitalize the affections, adorn the countenance make mellifluous the voice, and impart a hallowed beauty even to your motions. Not merely that you may be loved, would I urge this, but that you may, in truth, be lovely—that loveliness which fades not with time, nor is marred or alienated by disease, but which neither chance nor change can in any way despoil.

9. Silken Enticements of the Stranger.—We urge you, gentle maiden, to beware of the silken enticements of the stranger, until your love is confirmed by protracted acquaintance. Shun the idler, though his coffers overflow with pelf. Avoid the irreverent—the scoffer of hallowed things; and him who "looks upon the wine while it is red;" him too, "who hath a high look and a proud heart," and who "privily slandereth his neighbor." Do not heed the specious prattle about "first love," and so place, irrevocably, the seal upon your future destiny, before you have sounded, in silence and secrecy, the deep fountains of your own heart. Wait, rather, until your own character and that of him who would woo you, is more fully developed. Surely, if this "first love" cannot endure a short probation, fortified by "the pleasures of hope," how can it be expected to survive years of intimacy, scenes of trial, distracting cares, wasting sickness, and all the homely routine of practical life? Yet it is these that constitute life, and the love that cannot abide them is false and must die.