Museum: “What Now? by Charles F. Deems
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PRESENT FOR YOUNG LADIES.
BY CHARLES F. DEEMS,
PRESIDENT OF GREENSBORO FEMALE COLLEGE, N.C.
M. W. DODD, PUBLISHER,
Corner of City Hall Square and Spruce Street.
ENTERED according to Act of Congress in the year 1852,
BY M. W. DODD,
in the Clerk’s Office of the District Court for the Southern District of
E. O. JENKINS PRINT. AND STER.,
114 Nassau Street.
LUCY E. BIGGS,
FANNIE M. BISHOP,
CATHERINE S. BLAKE,
MARY E. CLEMENT,
SUSAN E. SATTERFIELD,
ANNIE J. SLADE, AND
NANNIE T. SPEED,
THE CLASS GRADUATING AT GREENSBORO FEMALE COLLEGE, AT
THE COMMENCEMENT IN 1852,
All Other Young Ladies
WHO HAVE BEEN
This Little Volume is Affectionately Inscribed.
__THIS Tractate was written in the brief intervals of scholastic duty, during three weeks almost immediately preceding COMMENCEMENT. Fresh from the author’s heart, with all its unpruned phraseology, he knows it will be a pleasant Souvenir to his own pupils, and hopes its publication may do some good to the larger circle of young, educated, Christian Ladies.
April 26, 1852.
__IT is a remark of that keen analyzer of human character and shrewd observer of human manners, John Poster, “I have observed that most ladies who have had what is considered as an education have no idea of an education progressive through life. Haying attained a certain measure of accomplishment, knowledge, manners, &c., they consider themselves as made up, and so take their station. They are pictures which being quite finished are now put in a frame, a gilded one if possible, and hung up in permanence of beauty! in permanence, that
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is to say, till Old Time with his rude and dirty fingers, soil the charming colors.” __My young friend, you are now leaving school. You depart from the routine of scholastic discipline. The recitation room, the black-boards, the thumbed text-books, the tutorial instruction have all disappeared. You have turned your back upon them. You stand at the threshold of a new department. You have groped your way through a passage that often seemed dark, and, in the perspective, very long, but which now in the retrospective appears very short. You stand before a great door. Many a day and night have you strained your eyes to see it. You are at it. Look on it. The in-
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scription is the surprising question of your heart, What now?
__ Yes, what now? Something now, surely. You are not of that class of young ladies described by John Foster as having no idea that education is progressive through life. If so what a grand mistake you have made! You have merely begun. The most that any, even the best schools in the country try, can do for their pupils, is merely to teach them how to educate themselves. They give them the point of departure, the charts, the compass, the instruction in navigation, and launch them upon the sea on which they are to make the voyage of life towards the port of heaven. They must ever be watching the winds, guarding the helm,
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taking their bearings, and making their soundings. But alas! how many young ladies are launched and go a drifting, helmless and compassless, withersoever wind and wave may bear them! And how many go down at sea or wreck on reefs where many a bark lies shattered!
__To take up Poster’s figure, you have simply chalked on the canvas the outlines of the landscape. The painting is to be a life-long work. You are carefully to mix your colors, study the shades, lay on the pigment, and bring your picture to such perfection that it may be framed in immortality and hung in the grand gallery of eternity. When a nobleman had engaged an artist to execute a master-piece of sculpture for him, he visited the studio after several
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weeks’ absence and it seemed to him that the artist had made little progress.” What have you been doing?” said he. “Working at this figure.” “But I see nothing done beyond what was accomplished before my last visit.” “Why,” said the sculptor, “I have developed this muscle, I have modified this portion of the drapery, I have slightly changed this expression of the lip.” “But these are trifles.” “True, my lord,” replied the sculptor: “but perfection is made up of trifles.”
__And so in the development of character. No one can appreciate the hidden labor, the fastidious carefulness, with which you will toil in secret to strengthen some weak point in your character, to bring out some faculty and to educate
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some power. But the world can appreciate the whole of a nobly developed character It is in this as in other things, as in painting for instance. The picture charms from its vraisemblance its truth to nature, its soft blending of colors, its harmonious adjustment of features. The beholder is delighted. The slightest disproportion in a figure, the slightest unbalance of light and shade, would break the charm. The beholder could not tell why; but there would be something wrong. How little can he who walks a gallery of paintings tell of the toil, the study of nature and of the masters, the close devotion to details, the whole week spent on a twig, on a leaf, on a square inch of flame or smoke or foliage. And so
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in music. The harmony and the melody are perfect. The orchestra is perfectly cast. The composer and manager have neglected no detail. The instruments are brought to exactest accord. The voices are trained to their best capabilities. The effect upon the audience is prodigious. A wrong note, a weak string, a single harsh voice would destroy the effect. But who can estimate the long years of scientific training upon the part of the composer to enable him to produce a work which accords at once with science and the beatings of ten thousand human hearts? Who can appreciate the care with which each member of the orchestra has brought his voice to a perfect consonance with a hundred
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other voices of different powers ? And so with oratory. The chains of logic are flung round an audience, and the lever of the heart is put into the windlass of the intellect, and the whole mass of human spirits is drawn by the power of a single hand. But who can tell what fields of science and history have been explored, and what hours of careful weighing of arguments, what years of the study of language and voice, and of the balance of human passions, what efforts of self-control, have marked the history of the orator before he found the capability of seizing, and lifting and swaying thousands of human souls!
__These results occupy small space. The painting is hung and in one
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minute its entire effect has entered the mind and enchained it. The key note is struck, and in ten minutes the crowded concert-room heaves with emotion The oration begins and in one hour thousands of hearts have been elevated to the highest region of sentiment, or hurried to the verge of the greatest moral or physical daring. But the preparation has been long and laborious, so long and laborious that the producers of effects in these several cases are not aware how much they did before they could do anything very great. Every object upon which the painter had gazed, every sound of man or bird or instrument to which the composer had listened, every thought, fact, argument, or sentiment, which had entered the
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mind or heart of the orator, had carried on the education which was necessary to the production of his master-piece. You must not, therefore, ever think that your work is entirely done.
__You must not regard anything as a trifle which will help you to produce the grand effect of life. No moment of time is contemptible, no book, no acquaintance, no conversation. They all modify, all educate. The seal will make its exact likeness on the wax. Every line, how minute soever, will leave its counterpart on the plastic material. You are to stamp your character’s image upon the world and upon your eternity. Your doom beyond the grave will answer to your character as
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the alto of the wax answers to the basso of the seal.
__The result is worth the effort. Whatever may have been the previous toil, anxiety, and care, of the painter, the musician, and the orator, the hour when hundreds and thousands are standing with rapt delight before the almost speaking canvas, or palpitating with rapture, or melting with emotion under the ravishing strain of the music, or surrendering themselves to the magic power of eloquence, is a reward to each amply repaying all outlay of time or thought or care. The hour of victory is worth the year’s toilsome campaign. And so will it be with you. Whatever you may do towards educating yourself there will come times of trials in which,
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if you be prepared for its emergences, you will find every power taxed and every labor rewarded. There will then be no regrets over privation, and study, and care.
__If now, you really feel the truth of the statement that your education is not finished and that you are to work at it as long as you live, you may be willing to heed a few suggestions of practical importance.
__You have just quit school, not “finished” as the phrase of the ignorant fashionable world has it; on the contrary, unfinished, very much so indeed; but superior to badly taught girls in this–that you feel how very unfinished you are, while they, pretty simpletons, go forth to simper bald sentiment and
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lisp bad French in circles as silly as themselves, to distress their parents, to coquette with their lovers, to ruin their husbands, and to be mothers of children who shall inherit their own weaknesses and superficiality. They are surprised at the question what now? “What now? indeed! I thought I had done!” You are not so. You stand not at the gate of entrance but at the portal of departure. You go forth to do something thing, something greatly worth the doing.
__First of all, make a review. What have you done? How far are you educated? What portion of your character have you neglected? Wherein are you weakest? To what extent are you able to bear burdens, to deny self, to go for-
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ward alone, to help those upon whom you may lean or those who may lean upon you? Take time to do this calmly. You will have the warm and cordial greetings of many true friends and the complimentary greetings of many hollow fashionable acquaintances. When this shall have passed go into yourself and ask, “What do all these expect of me now? my parents and brothers and sisters, and the domestics, and my circle of relatives, and my pastor, and his neighborhood, and my acquaintances?” Many will expect nothing. They never think of their claims upon you or your claims upon them, or the momentous responsibilities of human existence. But some will think, and they will observe you, and they will judge your parents,
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your teachers, and yourselves, by the views which they perceive you take of life and its complicated relationships. If they discover that you think the whole of education lies in the little circle of studies embraced in the plan of any seminary now existing, they will know at once that your mind is too narrow to take in the great circle of human duty.
__Remember also, young friend, that up to the time you left school your education was making progress under very different influences from those which will hereafter attend it. In school everything calculated to interrupt you was excluded. Self cultivation by direct effort was secured. But these efforts were not unaided. Your course was marked out for you. You have
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never had to spend a moment’s thought upon what text-books should next be studied. You had them furnished to your hands. In mastering them you had the daily aid of those who had gone carefully and repeatedly over those studies, having had the advantage of excellent early instruction. And when your teachers reached you they brought to your aid all the experience in explaining and enforcing which they had gathered from years of labor spent on the culture of other pupils. This assistance has been most material.
__There will come another most perceptible difference. In schools and seminaries you have had the stimulus ministered by the literary society, by the presence of books and constant on-going of
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study all around you. You have been in classes. You have been cheered by scholastic companionship. An emulation has been generated, and when you otherwise would have fagged, the energy and perseverance of some roommate mate or classmate has renerved you to your labors. You have been traveling in a crowd of gay companions, with now and then a halting time and a season of festive refreshment and a girding up again, as at the close and opening of school sessions.
__Now you must go alone. You must select your own books and methods of study. You must be your own teacher. You must study without the excitement of knowing that the recitation-hour will soon arrive, and that your reputation
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with those whose opinions you respect may be forfeited by an hour’s idleness, You have no rivalry in study now. Coolly, and from high principle, and a feeling of the necessity of so doing, must you give yourself up to the work of carrying forward your intellectual and moral training. The props fall from around you. If you have the strength you are expected to have at the close of your school-days you will stand and grow: if not, you will droop, and dwindle and die.
__Very many young ladies regard every school regulation as a restraint necessary only �or childhood, and when they are making an estimate of the delightfulness of entering upon womanhood, to all the caresses of friends, and flatteries
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of admirers, and brilliance of fetes they add the casting off of this odious confinement. Well, the truth is, that you are not to be in precisely the same kind of restraint, nor the same amount, but unless you have learned to bear the absence from society necessary to intellectual culture, so as to preserve a measure of it, your mental growth has nearly come to an end. If you have dwelt upon your departure from school as setting you free from tasks, from early rising, from habits of investigation; if you expect to sleep in the morning as long as sloth soothes, and to rise with listlessness, and droop through the day with no excitement, except the thoughts of the style of dress you shall wear to the next party of pleasure, your education
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has not been even respectably begun.
__Now you must unite in yourself the double character of teacher and pupil. The reputation you have won at school has been simply as learner. You are henceforth to achieve a double reputation. You are to teach yourself. You will occasionally review your old studies, for they are the roots of all the growth in the wide and flourishing for est of science and literature. But you must push your studies beyond, and you must keep up with advancing science and literature. “Reading makes a full man,” says Lord Bacon. You must read. You will read. The habits already formed will lead you to this. The danger is that you may read the wrong
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kinds of books, or read the right kind improperly. Upon these points a few suggestions are affectionately addressed to your understanding.
__(1.) Be content not to read everything. You cannot go over the whole field. Make a selection. Not because it is a book has a volume claims upon you. You would not allow every kind of man to talk to you for hours. Be as choice of books, for books are men’s minds made portable. Whereas there are so many good books in each department of learning, and whereas your time is short, select the very best.
__ (2.) Be sure that you never read a sentence in a book which you would not be pleased to have your father or your brother know to be engaging your at-
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tention Never read a book which you must peruse in secret.
__(3.) Beware of new books. Let them take their place in society before you admit them to your library. They will do you as much good five years hence as now, and then those assayers of books, the critics, will have passed them through the fire, and the great public of reading persons, often forming a safer tribunal for the trial of books than even the critics, will have stamped the mark of an approximated true valuation. There are enough books which have survived three generations, to engage your attention while the books published this year will be running the gauntlet.
__(4.) Beware of books with colored
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paper covers, the cheap thin issues of a depraved press, the anonymous nouvellettes and tales and stories Better never read than peruse such trash as these contain. Be sure that the man who wrote the book you are reading is` really a great man in his department. Do not be ashamed of being ignorant of the productions of the modern, flippant, bizarre writings, while you are unfamiliar with Milton, and Shakspeare, Spenser and Ben Jonson, the men that “built the lofty rhyme,” and the grand old fathers of our noble English tongue. If you read the modern books of such men as Macaulay, and Hazlitt, and Leigh Hunt, read with them the older and the greater men, to whom they make constant reference, and from whose “well
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of English undefiled” they drew the water sparkling in their shallower channels.
__(5.) Make yourself a small good library to begin on. Let it embrace the works of a very few of the greatest poets, the greatest historians, the greatest essayists, the greatest metaphysicians, and the greatest religious writers in the language. Of course THE BIBLE will lie at the foundation of your studies. These, with a very few books in each of those departments of physical science which a woman should be acquainted with, and the best dictionary of the language, and, if practicable, an encyclopedia, will make you such a beginning as will give strength and breadth and consistency to your self-culture. If you
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have been studying other languages let the same rigid rule be applied to the literature of those languages. The careful reading of one book will show you what you further need in that department; and so you will pass over the field of English literature, omitting much, but short as life is, and many as may be your cares, you will probably, in a long life, have obtained all that is necessary.
__(6.) You will also have your periodicals. Few things produce superficiality more than a promiscuous reading of our current periodicals. You will have two selections to make; one from the mass of such publications soliciting your attention, and another, from those which you take, the articles proper to be read. It is one of the necessities of successful
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editing of our monthly magazines that so much useless matter must be introduced to make them popular enough to render them profitable to their proprietors There is no monthly magazine in existence, with which I am acquainted, which should be read in all its articles by an intellectual young lady seeking a high and large cultivation of mind. Your own judgment must guide you in this. A very few of the best monthlies and quarterlies should be suffered to enter our families, and from these a young lady of refinement may select, perhaps, all the light-reading necessary to mental recreation. It is painful to observe how low the standard of mind among our ladies is, judging from the contents of the most popular magazines
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for ladies. In your measure do what you can to correct this evil by laboring to enlarge in your sex the class of more elevated readers.
__The material gathered, how to build is another very grave question, upon which the limits we now assign ourselves will allow only a few suggestions.
__(1.) Read slowly. If physical dyspepsia is caused as much by rapid eating as by a multifarious diet, so may an intellectual dyspepsia be superinduced by bolting your mental food. The books you read are the pabulum of your mind. You eat to live, not live to eat : so you must read to live, not live to read. It is not the amount read which will furnish your minds, but the quality and mode of reading. No reading will pro-
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fit which is not mixed with thought, and you cannot think of that which is rapidly passing before your eyes.
__(2.) Therefore read thoughtfully. Stop your author and catechize him. See if his testimony be reliable. Compare him with himself. Let him not speak and run from you. Seize him and hold him, until you have gathered from him all that he has to give. You will wish to make use of your reading. To that end it must be remembered. Memory depends upon attention. Attention requires time and thought. It is said of Edmund Burke, that he had great memory of what he read. Some one has recorded of him that he read every book as though it were the only copy in existence, as though he were allowed only
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one reading of its pages, and as though each sentence contained what was to be of daily, and everlasting, and immense importance to him. No wonder that he garnered his learning so well! I have observed among the pupils of our schools two classes of memory. There are those whose minds seem like pasteboard spread with fluid gum, to which all gnats, all down, all atoms drifting in the atmosphere, adhere. They are as easily rubbed off by any rough hand. I have seen others laboring long with apparently little advancement But they were planting thoughts like trees, which, the longer they remained in the soil of the mind, although that soil might be coarse and rocky, were striking their roots deeper, and spreading their branches, and
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making themselves ready to produce annual fruits. So let it be with your reading. The memory of words may not be so important, but if the thought be great, and the sentiment be just, it should be incorporated with your mental constitution, not laid on like a robe for a temporary display on a certain occasion, but to be thereafter flung off and forgotten, but taken into the very heart of your intellect and passed into the circulation of your mind’s blood.
__(3.) Read topically. When you strike a rich vein run it through your whole library. You will thus be able to bring to your mind all the best that has been said upon a given subject by a variety of minds. You will often find it well, for instance, when studying a certain
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portion of history to examine and compare the biographies of the principal actors in that particular age, and then see them grouped by a few masterhands. Occasionally our poets and other word-painters give you aid by their analysis of character, and fix correct views of character by striking imagery and well-wrought story.
__(4.) Read for use, and use what you read. There is such a thing as intellectual wine. You may perpetually be stimulating your minds with intoxicating reading. The reaction must be mental depression, and the longer the stimulus be kept on, and the longer the return to a natural healthful state be postponed, the deeper will be the depression and the more weakened will be
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the intellect when it wakes up from this unhealthful dreaming. There are those mho are thus driven again and again to the stimulant until a mental delirium tremens sets in on them, or they are reduced to a drivelling idiocy. Beware of this kind of reading. Read for strength, for growth, for use. Review your mental states while reading. Ask yourself again and again, how am I to use this? What does this illustrate or prove? How am I to connect this with what I already know? Where shall I place it in my mind to be ready to draw upon at the needful time? Napoleon said he had his mind arranged like a bureau with drawers, so that he could open one and study what it contained, shut it up and read another, without
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mingling the contents. How different this from many minds which seem to find their best representation in a lumber-garret or old curiosity-shop!
__In all your reading, dear young friend, ask yourself, how shall I answer for this at the judgment-seat of Christ? To Him you must give an account. The precious hours spent over tawdry stories, if given to devout reading and study, would fit you for greater usefulness upon earth and aid your preparation for the skies.
__The question ” What now? ” recurs. Why have you spent years away from home, after having spent years at home, in the study of books of human learning? Why this costly labor, this large outlay of money, strength, and
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time? Have you ever asked yourself this question seriously? Is all this rearing of schools and colleges, these collections of accomplished teachers, this expenditure of time and intellect merely for a show, for a variety in the phases of life? Is there nothing substantial to come as the result of it? What now? You leave school. Is all done? Verily, it were sad to think that all the difference between educated and uneducated young ladies should reside in the fact that the former can parole a few phrases in foreign idioms, thrum a few tunes on a musical instrument, or paint a few square feet of canvas. If this be all the difference education is a hoax, and the time spent on it wasted. But you know that there is a high and
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great difference. You are to go forth to great usefulness, to do much good, to do much more than the uneducated. If you do not exert a more powerful and healthful influence upon society than those who have not had your advantages, you will do the great mischief of bringing contempt upon education, especially upon the education of your sex. The men around you will be confirmed in that low prejudice that it is useless to labor for the high cultivation of female intellect, and thus yon will lower your sex in the estimation of the world, and paralyze efforts which, if successful, will give the advantages of wholesome learning to many young ladies who will make proper use of it. Remember, then, that the interests of
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your sex are, in a large measure, in your hands.
__Young men, as they close their collegiate career, begin to calculate upon the professions they shall enter. Young ladies cannot do precisely as they, and therefore often think they have nothing to do. They go home and wait to be courted and married. They marry just because it is usual for young ladies to marry, and that is as far as they look, as far as they care. What a mistake ! Every woman should feel that her profession is to do good, in beautiful ways becoming her womanly nature If you, my friend, have proper views of your place in society and your responsibility to God, you will go forth to use all your present knowledge to bless those
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around you and go forth gathering that you may scatter again.
__Is your field of usefulness small? You will allow one, whose affection for you imparts the disposition rather to lead you in the path of duty than through amusing speculations or fanciful scenes, to survey with you the field upon which you must now enter, and if possible point out methods in which you can fulfill your engagements to society and to God.
__The first who have claims upon you are your parents. Under God they gave you being. When you were utterly helpless they sustained you. They have provided for you all the helps you have had in the cultivation of your intellects. They submitted to the pain of
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being separated from you through those years when you would have been very interesting to them. Almost immediately after the troublesome period of infancy and childhood, just as you were beginning to be self-reliant, as your minds had expanded sufficiently to make you companions for them, they endured the pain of parting. solely for your good. They knew also that all the months of your society they lost were hurrying you on to that period when other love would take the precedence of theirs, that love which draws young girls from the home-nest to other shelter and other society. Yet, with a parent’s unselfish love, they gave you up, for your own benefit. Now, then, when you return to them, until the time shall
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come when he shall appear who is to abstract you from parental embraces to try with him life, ruder labors and more rugged paths, let every day be filled with the gentlest, sweetest, most daughterly attentions to your father and mother. Father and mother ! Perhaps there is only one now: the other may have gone. Your father sits in a lonely house. The friend of his youth, who in early days entered with him into love’s yoke-fellowship, your mother, has gone away from his side to return no hat solicitous expectancy has he been endeavoring to hurry the slow hours of his desolateness to the time when your return to the homestead shall gladden his heart by a thousand little winning attentions, re-
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minding him of your mother’s first devotion. To take that mother’s place is no small honor and no small labor. Or it may be that your mother lives,-lives to feel how bereft a widow is, when her stay has been struck from beneath her ; and it may be she has denied herself many a comfort and studied a tighter economy, to purchase for you the intellectual furniture wherewith your life is to be adorned. How many a close calculation of means may she have made, how many a night laid down with an aching head, because she could not see how she was to provide, from her scanty income, for all the mouths at home, and have sufficient surplus to keep you amid all the advantages of a high seminary of learning, And since your
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father died, and upon her has devolved the work of looking after many a thing which doth not usually fall to the feminine sphere, it may be that she feels how much of practical training was omitted in her education, and seen at length the folly of having wasted so many of her school-hours. This may be the secret of many a passage in her letters which you thought rather gratuitous, and as reflecting upon your habits of industry. Lay them to heart. Go home to help and cheer her. Let the harvest of her tears come quickly and richly in your abundant cheerfulness to do anything a daughter ought to do for a widowed mother,-and watch, anticipate pate her wants and desires, add no feather’s weight to her burdens, but be
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hands and feet and wings to your mother.
__But both parents may be living, living in abundance, well-educated themselves, moving in a high social circle, to which you are to be admitted and where you are to sustain the reputation of the family. In that circle you may do much good, if to a trained mind you have added the graces of a genuine, hearty piety. Carry thither the wisdom which cometh down from above, and the Lord will make you fruitful in all good works.
__Your parents may not have had your advantages. In good circumstances, having obtained a fortune which has placed them in positions to make them feel the need of an education, they early
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determined that you should never be subjected to the mortifications to which their want of culture has subjected them, and for this reason they have freely spent their means to educate you. Or, having natural talents, and lacking both the full purse and the accomplishments of education, they have practiced a joint economy and invested the whole of their annual savings in your education. They expect you to return to them to be the light of the little homecircle, and adorn their latter days, and by your superior cultivation to be able to make such social alliances as shall advance you. Are they to be disappointed? Nay, verily. Lay not up for yourselves hours of remorseful self-reproach, when you shall have blasted 5
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their hopes and hastened their departure from you. If at any time you perceive the superiority which your training and associations have given you, as you value the respect of the good, as you place any estimate upon the invaluable treasure of a permanent self-respect, never for a moment, by deed or word or look, betray a disdainful sense of their inferiority. When you take the hard hand of that kind father in yours, remember that the fruits of the toil which hardened those hands were not expended upon his own pleasures, but upon your education; and remember that while you were sheltered and quiet, turning your books, dancing your snowy hands over the keys or strings of musical instruments, that
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mother was in employments that browned her complexion but robed her daughter in the dresses which fitted her to mingle with the refined. If there be of unholy pride a more disgusting exhibition, it is the disdain with which some girls who have received a little smattering of school-learning affect to look down upon their plain mothers. My young friend, be not so. The truly refined and well-bred will despise you,if they see such exhibitions in you;–and you can never by such pride lift yourself from being still that mother’s daughter. I have no kind of respect for the pretension to education which some young ladies make who are willing to sit in parlor and drawing-room, working beautiful embroidery, thrumming the piano
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or sighing over novels, while their mothers are in the nursery, the laundry, or the kitchen, toiling amid domestic work, which must be done if the family be comfortable. Heaven have mercy upon the wretched man who, for his sins, may be made the husband of such a heartless young person. If I were advising a young gentleman in search of a wife, I should carefully direct him to ascertain how the young lady treats her parents, especially her mother. A young lady who, not habitually, but once a month, or once a year,–I had almost written, once in her whole life,–ventures to speak unkindly, impertinently, or unfeelingly to her mother, will almost certainly plant her husband’s pillow with thorns. In all my observa-
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tion in families I have carefully noticed this, and never yet have seen a girl tenderly solicitous of her mother, and attentive to her wishes and desires, who did not make a wife to be honored and loved; and I never knew an unfilial girl that did not become a heartless wife and an unhappy mother, if God called her to those positions.
__It may be that you have had no aid from your parents. Rich or poor, they have never felt the duty of educating you. But, smitten with the love of learning, you have had the enterprise to adopt and prosecute your own plans, and now you go back to them. If properly trained how radiant will be your mind in that untutored household! You will not seek to overwhelm your
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parents with the terms of art and science which you have acquired. No, such pedantry will disfigure your intercourse with them, and create stronger prejudices against education. Your well-trained faculties will carry you with such graceful ease round the whole circle of filial duty that they will be as conscious as you are unconscious of the new strength which has fallen upon you. In any case you are to return to your parents wiser, better, stronger than you came away. And, if you have neither father nor mother, strive to fill their places in society and shed a pure light of honor on the memory of the departed.
__ What now? That is the inquisitive question of your heart. And perhaps
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at home there are several young hearts beating with the same anxious question. The younger brothers and sisters are looking for your return with no small amount of solicitude. “Will sister be changed any?” “I wonder if she will talk as she used to do!” “She has been with so many fine young ladies I’m afraid I shall not know how to behave when she comes.” “But won’t she tell us a sight of things!” These and a hundred similar questions and exclamations are made, in the nursery and on the play-ground, by the little folk at home. And in their dreams they have pictured you and made you majestic as a queen and lovely as an angel. Go home and show them that you are neither, but what for them is far better
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than queen or angel, you are a wiser, more considerate, kinder, and more affectionate sister Lead them. Set them all examples of filial devotion. Teach them truth and honor, patience and courage, meekness and strength, by a varied but consistent example. Sympathize with them. Gather up the floating feelers of their young spirits and bind them to your heart. Make them respect your judgment by your wise assistance in all their pleasures and studies, and make them feel that in you they have a friend whom they may always approach, even when reverence may deter them from entering the presence of their parents. And thus, as they grow older, you will exert an influence upon them which shall go
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on widening with the channels of their several influences, and descending in blessings upon their children and their children’s children.
__There is one means by which you can be very useful to your younger brothers and sisters. If you are as thoughtful as you should be, you make many reviews of the several stages of your education. You perceive wherein you have been neglected, or what you have passed too superficially over. You can prevent or correct these things in the younger children. You can give them the right “start” in their studies, and direct them until they shall have formed proper habits. The most important class in every institution of learning, is the youngest. The mode is so much more
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important than the subject of study! A young person who has learned how to study may, with comparative ease, acquire all necessary learning. The drudgery of the schools is occasioned by a neglect of the first instructors to teach their pupils how to form proper habits. All this drudgery you may prevent so far as your brothers and sisters are concerned; and by so doing you will be a life-long blessing to them ; you will avert solicitudes and anxieties, feverish tears and discouraging despondency, by teaching a child not his lesson, but how to acquire that lesson. Your education will certainly be considered worthless, if you cannot assume the office of teacher to the younger children. If you do your duty, the expense of their educa-
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tion will be lessened, the time they spend from home will be shortened, and their stay at high schools and colleges be made so much more pleasant. There is such a sweet and hallowed power in a sister’s love that you will lose much of the happiness of your existence upon earth if you fail to exert it.
__There is another sphere of usefulness which lies very near all our educated young ladies, and which lies too much neglected. I allude to the domestics in families. You have certainly grown up with very false views, if you have learned to look upon servants as another and an inferior race of beings. They are human and immortal. They are your fellow-sinners. Ranks and orders in society are necessary for our well-being
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upon earth, and no man should seek to level all to the same position. God has instituted service, and in its place it is honorable. And remember that your Maker is at such an infinite elevation above all classes of society that the distance between the most menial servant and his God seems no greater than that between an earthly monarch and his eternal king ; even as we do not think of a mountain top on our earth as being nearer to a fixed star than the bottom of the lowest valley. While it is quite proper that you should be mistress and another woman should be servant, while you are both together upon earth, remember that you will both soon stand before the throne of God, where the only distinctions will lie in the larger
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or smaller development of the principles of holiness. These thoughts should have an influence to lead you to be kind and gentle with the servants about your father’s house and to carry the same benignity with you when you assume the place of mistress in your own house, if God design this for you.
__You must give an account for the kind of influence you exert upon the servants when you return home. Some of them are old. Perhaps some of them nursed you in your infancy, and perhaps, as is frequently the case in established families, some of them nursed your father or your mother. They will regard you with much tenderness. In any case, going from school with all the accomplishments which the unlearned
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servants will imagine you possess, whether you do or not, you will be able to exert great influence over them. Now, how will you answer to the Bather of your spirit, if you spend week after week, and month after month, in the pursuit of fashionable pleasure, or even in the selfish cultivation of your intellect, and never spend one hour in teaching them the way to God, while they have been so near you and your influence over them is so great for good or evil? Put it to your own conscience, If you let them see in you, in private as well as in public, that the ruling power in your heart is not vanity or pride or wordly-mindedness, but the love of Jesus and of doing good to all for his sake, you will be educating them for a pro-
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per discharge of duty in this life, and for the life to come, even if you never attempt to give them a sentence of oral instruction in the things pertaining to ‘godliness. But if, while a holy and lofty life shall be establishing a powerful sway over them, you take proper occasions to cultivate their hearts by a regular, devoted attention to them on set and proper occasions, you will be preparing stars for your crown in heaven.
__Reflect also upon the facts that the happiness or misery of any family depends in a large measure upon the character of the servants, and that one good or bad servant has great effect upon the character of the others. And extend this observation to the fact that one happy family in a village or town or country
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try neighborhood, both by its example and by the natural contagion of pleasurable emotions, sheds a delightful social charm all around it. Nom, then, if you can gain a right influence over the servants in your father’s house, so as to educate them in any measure to act by impulses of right principles, you will do them good, you will relieve the weight that lies upon your mother, you will destroy many discomforts which disturb your father, you will lubricate the joints of the domestic framework, you will add another to the number of the happy families, and thus make yourself delightfully felt perhaps to the remotest verge of society, and to the last generation of men.
__The family circle is, certainly, woman’s most appropriate theatre. There
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she is to work, there to shine. She is cut off from the fields upon which men of ability and ambition distinguish themselves. She never appears on the forum, never in the battle-rage. There can be no female Napoleon, no female Daniel Webster. But woman is human. She has ambition as certainly and as powerfully as men, and when that ambition is unsanctified, she will seek her trophies in the triumphs of the ball-room, and exercise her diplomacy in the fineness of coquetry. But, alas! how unsatisfactory are the results. The more and the greater the triumphs the more is she laying up for herself stores of remorse and grief. If she venture upon literature, and even attempt science in the way of authorship, she is made to
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feel the prejudice which prevails society against writing-women. Men may admire Madame de Stael and Mary Somerville, but whatever tribute their abilities and learning may wring from the head, is given with a corresponding diminution of the more precious and spontaneous tribute of the heart.
__But when the intellect of woman is sanctified, and her labors lie in the direct path of philanthropy, all men feel that they are appropriate to the gentleness and loveliness, to the unselfishness of her sex. In her own family is the nearest and the best field, and while circumstances may occasionally give her opportunities of extending her labors beyond, they are always expected to be another development of this domestic
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culture. A young lady may begin her work at once and at home by making that home more beautiful, in the eyes of all its inmates, by a thousand little nameless less acts of kindness and good manners. And how finely have Christian manners been called the minor morals! So much of morals is there in a proper style of manners, that for usefulness, great and permanent usefulness, a lady map almost as well be destitute of integrity as of courtesy and winning, sweet, womanly tact and address. I would have you cultivate these, not for display, but as widening your real influence for good and as being one of the most effectual methods of making your home happy to yourself, and happy to those whom you are most bound to love.
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When this is done, when by good husbanding of time, you shall have found space for the discharge of all your private duties, and with your mother and sisters, taken your share of the most unpleasant as well as the most pleasant portions of domestic service, which, in every household, no matter how many servants there may be, will fall upon the ladies of the house, yon may still find some time to devote to your neighbors, and by kind offices bind your family to the families in your immediate vicinity.
__It is the remark of perhaps the greatest woman of this age, Mary Lyon, that “teaching is really the business of almost every useful woman.” Look through society and see if this be not true. Nom it does seem to me that no young lady
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can be properly educated who has not always pursued her studies with a view to teaching in some position. She may not look to employment in our seminaries, but she will have teaching in some of its modes always before her. A young lady who leaves school only to be a woman and be married, having no plans of usefulness in her mind, is not worth a husband, unless, indeed, she should find her mate in the young man who has passed through college simply for the purpose of graduating, and such a couple would be a disgrace to their generation. You must aim at usefulness. Upon quitting school conscience asks What now? and your Maker and your race propound this question solemnly to your soul. Let your answer be, to do
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something for my Lord. Determine to do something. One of the best methods of making larger acquisitions is to use your present acquirements promptly, cheerfully, and continually. You must be willing to be useful in the first field that offers. Dr. Johnson has said that the man who waits until he can find some opportunity of being useful on a magnificent scale, will be of little service to society. Enter the first opening, and as you prove yourself faithful in that which is least, your Lord will, by and by, make a way for you to be faithful in that which is greatest.
__If determined to be useful, almost the first suggestion to your own mind will be to teach. If there be no younger brother or sister to be instructed, there
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are some poor children in your neighborhood who have no means of being educated. Could you do better than to gather them together and devote an hour or two every day to their instruction? The most certain way to become exact in any department is to teach. It will be one of the most profitable of all your pursuits. The very fact of its being a gratuity will place you upon the bare platform of principle, as you will teach for the simple object of doing good. You will thus be taking up the ground which hireling teachers will never cultivate. In the group of ragged children in your village may be a few minds of superior natural abilities. But no man cares for their souls. They are “pregnant with celestial fire.” It may be theirs to “sway
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the rod of empire,” or “wake to ecstacy the living lyre,” if some intelligent and kind spirit will seize the direction of their earliest studies. Would it not be a great and a good work to gather a few of those intellects around you, and by the sweet persuasives which your sex knows so well how to use, bind them to your love, and kindle in them a hungering and thirsting after righteousness and truth? You might have then only a few months or even a few weeks, but you might in that time place the key of knowledge in the hands of some strong and inquisitive intellect, which will bring out treasures for the enriching of his generation. You may plant a single good principle, which in moments of powerful temptation, when the fate of
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nations may hang upon the decision of that single individual, may enable him to dare to do right, and thus send a wide-spread blessing to ten thousand homes.
__If you should ever undertake a work like this you will meet with many discouragements from your own want of self-control, and intellectual and spiritual preparation for this work; and you will be discouraged by the obstinacy, the carelessness the want of interest in your pupils. This will be the more unpleasant to you as you will think that when you give your time and strength, without fee or reward, the least your pupils can do is to attend and to labor as closely as you do. But remember that they have nothing like the view of the im-
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portance of an education as that which leads you to engage in this work. Keep your heart up. The husbandman has patience and waits for the early a latter rain. When you shall be sleeping in the last bed of mortals, the rude, hard, apparently intractable boy, whom you drew from the crowd of ragged and soiled urchins, may have his spirit kindled by the fires from heaven. The spark you dropped on the day when you were, perhaps, most discouraged in regard to his case, and when you went to give his last lesson and admonition, may be fanned by the Spirit of God until his kindled soul should be flaming in spiritual power and glory amid the institutions of Christ’s Church.
__It seems to me, that to a Christian teach-
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teacher few things could be more gratifying than to know that those of his pupils whose circumstances lifted them above the necessities of laboring for a support, were employing themselves in teaching those to whom no other hands would unfold the book of knowledge. It would be so in accordance with that climax in the Lord’s description of the bringing in of his own dispensation of power, and mercy, and glory, “and to the poor the gospel is preached.”
__I speak to you as to a Christian. If you are not, if you have never had the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost, then the first great business of your life has up to this time been neglected, and must take precedence of everything else. Whatever
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other employment may engage your faculties, however important in. itself considered, it is an intruder upon more important things. It is most melancholy to reflect that you have passed through the whole of your scholastic life an impenitent sinner, under the condemnation of God, without peace of conscience and the repose of faith so essential to the highest success.
__It is important that educated minds should be accompanied by piety. Piety gives to education its most graceful beauty, and education increases the influence of piety. In your case, whatever influence you have had at school has been given directly against Jesus. YOU have been so far from doing anything for your Lord that you have ac-
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tually been standing in the way of the advancement of others. The more accomplished you have become, the more fascinating have been your manners, the larger the injury you have wrought. Here then are several considerations to lead you to seek immediately after a change of heart, a genuine, spiritual conversion. (1.) You have been doing an injury to the cause of Christ through all your course at school, and your faculties ought, if possible, to be doubly consecrated to God, that, as far as possible, you may counteract in society the evil you have already done. (2.) Through all your school-course you have been hardening your heart and postponing the hour of your return to God. You have, therefore, been cultivating a habit which
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will probably at last overpower you unless suddenly broken by God’s power. You have said that you could not pious at school, because of the studies which engaged you, and because of your youth, and because you could not endure the ridicule of your companions You have given temporary quiet to your conscience by promising that immediately upon leaving school you would give your heart to God. That time has arrived. Do you feel more like being pious than you did a year or two ago? No: not so much. Allow me, my clear young friend, to deal faithfully with you, and show you what will be your probable future course, judging by your past. You will say that you cannot commence the
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great work of salvation now, because you are in the midst of the greetings of friends, and that such circumstances are surely not favorable to religion. You will conclude to postpone the work until you shall have passed through these festivities. But, my friend, when will they close? When will you cease to accept invitations and to reciprocate by having parties of pleasure at your hen will you cease to into a domestic routine? In this interval your accomplishments will probably be bringing suitors around you, and your vanity will be kept in a feverish state, and perhaps one may begin to excite in you a more and more tender interest, and you will not think of the Creator’s claims while the
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love of the creature will be so active at your heart and then will come the engrossing; grossing preliminaries of marriage, and all the higher festivities of that occasion, and then the gradually increasing cares of domestic life,–and so you will go on with your procrastination until you shall have settled into a hardened, cold, Christless woman of the world, exerting a most injurious influence over your husband and children. Oh! this were a result very greatly to be dreaded. But to it you will almost certainly come at last, unless, by great decision of character, you resolve to put off this work no moment longer. And may the Spirit of all grace help you so to do!
__(3.) Another reason why you should seek these great spiritual changes is, that
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there can be no great usefulness without true piety. Men may occasionally seem to be actuated by sentiments of philanthropy, and do those things which will be beneficial to their race, but to enter upon and prosecute a life-long course of usefulness requires the steady aid of a consistent piety. All your plans will probably fail unless you be sustained by motives higher than any which can be drawn from earth. To do and to suffer for Christ’s sake sanctifies every pursuit and every pang. Before all things, and above all things, my young friend, let me beseech you to seek the kingdom of God and its righteousness.
__But, perhaps, though your whole stay at school, you have been endeavoring to cultivate that simple yet power-
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ful piety which springs from faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. If so, you will at once begin to reap the-benefits of habits so early formed. You will have the comfort of feeling that if you should be taken early from the world, you have left an institution which may stand for centuries, and that that influence will both pass out into the great world with your younger school-mates, and will also descend upon successive generations of scholars. This is the nature of school influence.
__But in addition to this, you have the whole power of habit to cooperate with you in your efforts in spiritual self-improvement, and in doing good to the bodies and souls of others. This is a most comfortable fact in your case, the
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full value of which you could not properly appreciate, unless you could feel this power suddenly withdrawn from you, and flung with all its magnitude as a direct obstacle in your way. Be grateful to God for all the influences which his Providence has brought to bear upon you in your spiritual growth, and be humbled at the remembrance of the too small improvement made.
__But what now? You surely have not supposed the cultivation of piety to be on a footing with the economic regulations of the school, to be abandoned with those regulations. You are to go forward. You are to become more and more devoted to the service of God, more and more self-sacrificing, more and more useful. Make a review of
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your religious life while you were at school, and see wherein it is defective, according to the Gospel standard, and set yourself to work by the aids of God’s Spirit to make the necessary amendment, resolving to guard against those temptations which heretofore have proved too strong for your weak faith.
__There are many public duties of religion to the strict and proper performance of which educated young ladies should very frequently call their attention. Whatever influence is gained by the reputation of being educated ought to be thrown upon the side of true, vital godliness, and in favor of all those movements which are made to plant the Cross in every human heart. This is a busy time in the world. The uprolling
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of the night of ages which hung in darkness on the human mind, the rapid development of physical science, the sudden transmission of intelligence, the power of the press as the power of an uprisen sun flinging almost immediate light on a hemisphere at a time, all these things have quickened the human mind into wonderful activity. Men are more enterprising than of old, It is little to go round the whole earth now, to compass a point of policy or open a market for trade. Amid all this stir, bustle, and noise, while caste is breaking, and men are leaping the walls of national prejudices built through centuries of years, while old power is seeking to keep its own, and new revolutions are seeking to over
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turn venerable establishments, there is unwonted activity among all the agencies for good and evil. Sin is finding more power in the animated depravity of the human heart. Inquiry is making free with ancient errors and time-honored truths, and Christ and Belial are meeting with more antagonism in court and camp, in the forum and in the market-place.
__This, then, is no time for the educated of either sex to keep still. Every woman must take her position in this conflict. You will fail of the great earthly end of your being educated, unless you place yourself distinctly on the side of every good cause, every cause which labors for the elevation of humanity by the propagation of the prin-
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ciples of the Gospel. This you may do without transcending the proper limits of female delicacy, and to do your part in society you must always remember that you are a woman. With the graceful restraints of womanly modesty about you, you may make your mark upon the world, which shall be more powerful and influential than any inscriptions upon monumental marble.
__To do your share of the work of the world’s regeneration, see what forms of error prevail immediately around you, and without any romantic ideas of magnificent achievements in the moral world, take your own neighborhood and strive,–not by lecturing, haranging and all that kind of agency, but–by the inculcation of the opposite truth
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to extirpate the error. After all that is said, the best way of reclaiming the world from its fallow or brier-covered condition, until it shall bloom as the garden of God, is for each one to commence in the soil just below his feet and plant it thick with gospel-truths, and then steadily work from that point forward until he shall faint in the furrows and fall on the field. Each truth is a vital germ which must live, must spring up, must propagate itself, when once planted.
__The Gospel of Jesus is to elevate the world. The church is the store-house of all saving qualities. Endeavor, therefore, to do your part in making the particular church to which you belong a model-church. You must be a
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thorough Bible Christian, and by your example and the thousand nameless influences which you can bring to bear, endeavor to bring each professor of our religion up to the standard of the Gsopel If I might venture to say what are the two greatest defects in the church generally, so far as I know it, I should mention a want of Bible knowledge and a want of Christian liberality.
__ Let me urge you to endeavor to remedy these defects by a hearty, devout, and careful study of the Bible, the whole Bible, in letter and spirit–by a special cultivation in yourself of liberality both as regards sentiment and the appropriation of your pecuniary means to unselfish uses,–and then by a strenuous and skillful effort to lead all about
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you to become more and more deeply interested in Gospel teachings, and to devote their means to the spread of the truth. As your own mind becomes more and more imbued with the principles of the gospel, you will take more and more pleasure in stirring a love for those beauties and truths in the hearts of others.
__You may do much by giving your aid to your pastor in all his labors in which a member of the flock can assist the shepherd. A candid examination of his plans, and a cordial cooperation will encourage his soul, will hold up his hands and will induce others to fall in with their influence, and thus build up your church. You can hardly appreciate the pleasure with which a pas-
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tor receives such tokens of interest in the cause of the divine Redeemer to which he has devoted his life and his energies. Among other agencies there is connected with every well instituted church a Sabbath-school. One of the greatest difficulties in managing such a school is to obtain the necessary number of the right kind of teachers. A Sunday-school teacher should be intelligent, well-educated, and self-sacrificing Merely to hear children repeat answers to catechism questions, to read or repeat passages from the Bible by rote, without understanding or appreciation, is not, I should think, discharging the duties of such a post. The teacher should have habits of study, and not shrink from the labor of investiga-
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ting the Scriptures. By entering heartily upon this work you may make yourself, by God’s blessing, a model-teacher, may teach teachers, and bring the treasures of a cultivated mind to the elevation of the standard of instruction imparted.
__In the patient labors which you perform in this department you will be encouraged by two considerations. (1.) Many of the children in these schools obtain no other literary cultivation. If you do full duty towards your class you will have given them much. You will have instructed them in the idioms of their own language, will have taught them how to read the mother-tongue with propriety and elegance, will have stored their minds with much of the
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world’s history, ancient and modern, and with many facts and principles of physical science, natural history and geography. The amount of learning which may appropriately be imparted on the Lord’s day is by no means comtemptible. (2.) Remember that the future citizens of the nations and members of Christ’s church are committed to your charge, to receive their initial training in morals and religion. Many of them have no opportunity of learning their duties to God and to their fellow-men except at your hands. They are to become members of society, are to engage in the trade and commerce of the world, and at the ballot-box are to throw their influence for right or wrong into the councils of a growing
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commonwealth, now already one of the most powerful nations upon the face of the globe. By the blessing of the Holy Spirit upon your labors they will be brought into the church, but they will be strong or weak, wise or worldly, as you may give them the first spiritual bias.
__You may do much by visitations to the poor and uncultivated, by winning their confidence, by reading to them the word of God and the writings of devout men. Lady Colquhoun, of Scotland, rendered good service to her generation in a class for adults which she taught after church service on the Sabbath. It has occurred to me that many of our young ladies would find this is a profitable exercise, if pursued with
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humility, energy, and faith and there might be circumstances which would favor the formation of such a class to meet at suitable week-day hours.
__You should make it a point of conscience to secure a knowledge of the operations of every society for the spread of the Gospel connected with your own church, and as far as possible of those attached to other churches, and it is a shame to any person making pretension to be at all educated, not to keep herself respectably informed of the plans and movements of such powerful institutions as the American Bible Society and the American Tract Society. When this knowledge is gained it should be disseminated. You should talk these things over at home and in company,
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skillfully introducing such topics so as politely to throw aside the usual small-talk concerning dress, parties, and other frivolities. You will thus engage your heart and the hearts of others strongly on the side of the active benevolent operations of the Church. Your pastor will cheerfully assist you in gathering and scattering such useful information.
__There is one reform, which, in this day, is engaging the intellects and hearts of the greatest and noblest spirits of our nation, and to which every educated young lady should give her distinct, earnest, and intelligent cooperation. I allude to the Temperance Reform. The vice of intemperance has gone so deeply down into the social system that it will require the most strenuous exertion of
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us all to pluck it out. But none have suffered so much from intemperance as women, and none should labor with tongue and pen and influence more earnestly than women. You should fill your mind with such an abhorrence of intemperance so that you shall be able to bear neither the practice nor traffic. By the love you bear immortal souls, and by the respect you cherish for your sex, by your fear of that retributive justice which may bring the poisoned chalice back to your own lips, and by the awards of God’s dread bar, I charge and beseech you, never under any circumstances to offer wine or spirits to man or woman or child, unless as a nurse you do it under professional advice. Men have been made drunkards
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by the witching grace with which young and beautiful women have presented them the wine-cup: and they have gone forward, with a drunkard’s madness, to beggar their children and break the hearts of their wives. I would as soon a glittering snake should cross my foot as that I should meet a lady in a social party tendering a man who admires her the goblet which contains her shame and his perdition.
__I hope better things of you. You will be expected to set your face against intemperance in every way. Shun the young man who drinks, and let him know why you shun him. Listen to no words of wooing from the man who is not decidedly and notoriously opposed to the use and traffic of liquor. Let no
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man persuade you to link your destinies with his because he has reformed. He may have reformed, but alas! the history of habit, of this particular habit especially, shows how uncertain is such reformation. I have known men take vows of abstinence simply that they might blind the confidence of young hearts, and others have perhaps sincerely thought thus to have made themselves really worth the love and alliance they sought, but in both cases the old habit has been too strong for the young vows, and they have made shipwreck, with a precious cargo of hope and love aboard. Wine so poisons brain and heart that the man who drinks,–I do not mean the street-drunkard, but the man who indulges
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this vice in any measure,–is unworthy such love as yours.
__But the root of this great Upas-tree is in the traffic. Let not your smiles, your compliments, or any favor or countenance be shown to the man who makes or sells this social ruin: but countenance, and to the extent of your influence sustain, the men who are laboring by moral suasion or legislative enactment to extirpate this direful evil. Occasionally such a monstrous sight may be seen as a woman opposed to associations for suppressing intemperance In every case such women are either weak or wicked. Do what you can to reform them. Let your whole sex unite its energies in this cause, and the time will come when no more wives will per-
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ish under a drunken husband’s blows, and no orphans live to mourn over a drunken father’s disgraced grave.
__But your heart, my dear young friend, should be large enough to contain this world. While it is natural that your own immediate circle should most deeply interest you, it is Christian that you have charity for the whole world. As much for him who hunts in African forests as for him who trades in American cities, for her who flings her baby to the waters of the Ganges as for her who cradles her offspring in English halls, did Jesus Christ, the Saviour, die. It is part of our Christian education to cherish the missionary zeal. It saves us from the belittling influence of selfishness and sectionalism. God has or-
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dained that man shall be saved by man’s instrumentality. The church is bound to send the Gospel to the ends of the earth. We have too long slumbered over this imperative duty. It is time to arouse ourselves. Let no year of your life pass without your largest possible contribution of time, thought, prayer, influence, and money, to this cause which lies so near the Redeemer’s heart. One reason why Christians discharge their duties at home so poorly is that they have not an enlarged sympathy with the race. Our people know too little of the spiritual destitution of other lands, and therefore do not value and support, as they should, the Christian institutions in their own vicinity. You are bound to make yourself acquainted
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with the wants of the world, and, as much as in you lies, to supply those wants. What is a Christian? What was Christ ? Are we to hear His name, and have so little of His holy, sympathetic, self-sacrificing nature ? Make it your duty and your pleasure to arouse all around you to a keen feeling of their duty in this particular. Labor modestly, patiently, and perseveringly, to make the particular church to which you belong a powerful auxiliary to the Church Catholic, in advancing the spiritual regeneration of the world.
__And now, my dear young friend, I have endeavored in a brief, simple, and affectionate manner, to answer the question at your heart, What now? I have merely pointed out some courses of duty
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which, as an educated Christian lady, you will be bound to pursue. I have not said everything which might be said. Your Christian intelligence will suggest many other things. If you have right principles they will come forth into leaves of gracious language and fruits of useful acts, and you will be like a tree planted by rivers of waters.
__You go forth with what a load of responsibility! Remember the saying of your Saviour, to whom much is given of him will much be required. You are not to be lost in the mass of uneducated women, nor in the contemptible rabble of women of fashion. It will be a sad thing for you to commence life aimless, and float down to the ocean of eternity without strength to steer yourself and
105 WHAT NOW?
aid a fellow-swimmer. You go forth to do something. You go to write a record which shall not shame you in eternity. You go to leave your mark on the world, to open fountains whose waters shall flow in widening streams when you are housed with the shrouded. You are to be a lump of leaven in your family, in your church, in the world, and yon must labor to leaven the whole. Be not discouraged with the magnitude of your task. The Master asks no more than you can perform. Do all you can, but leave nothing undone which may be accomplished. The day whose night finds you with no increase of intellectual strength, no increase of learning, no earnest struggle with the evil of your heart and of the world, no good deed
106 WHAT NOW?
rightly done in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, will be a lost day ,–lost to you, but gone wandering into eternity to meet you in the hour when judgment shall be had on all your deeds and all your days. Therefore labor steadily.
__Life is for labor, death for rest, and eternity for reward. Paint not. There is an eye above you seeing every hope, every thought, every effort. It is the eye of the tender and unwearying Laborer for the world’s redemption. He is not unmindful to forget your labor of love. Nan’s praise or blame is but the modification of a worm’s breath;–it can do you little permanent harm or good. But the approbation of Jesus is the life’s-end of angels and good men. Men honor success, Jesus honors inten-
107 WHAT NOW?
tion. If you attempt great good things your reward in eternity will not be varied by any calculation of success or failure. Therefore, toil on.
__You will be called to suffer. This is woman’s lot; the effects of woman’s sin. But suffering may be beautiful: this is the effect of the grace purchased by Christ’s blood. You may bless your race as much from the room of sickness as from the teacher’s seat. A lesson of patience under the rod may impress a powerful soul with the truth and glory of Christianity, and send its influence to the heights and depths of human society. He that suffers patiently as much brings glory to the Savior’s name as he who labors energetically. One who has discharged every duty in
108 WHAT NOW?
health may, in God’s name, embrace the couch of sickness as freely as successful ambition embraces the throne of power. But what has an aimless, listless, or fashionable woman of pleasure to cheer and strengthen her when sickness and death shall come? Nothing done, nothing attempted: life past a dreary desert, life to come a gloomy pit. Be not so, precious friend, but daily plant the trees which shall bring forth flowers to strew your sick-bed and garland your grave.
“So live that when the mighty caravan,
Which halts one night time in the vale of Death,
Shall strike its white tents for the morning march,
Thou shalt mount onward to the Eternal Hills,
Thy foot unwearied, and thy strength renewed,
Like the strong eagle’s, for the upward flight.”
__(A.) I have mentioned Mary Lyon, as one of the greatest of her sex. Let me earnestly request you to give a careful reading to every page of ” The Power of Christian Benevolence illustrated in the Life and Labors of Mary Lyon, Compiled by Edward Hitchcock, D.D., LL.D. ” Keep it in your library. It will probably do you more good than any other merely human composition in the department of biography. If you can, visit her school at South Hadley, Mass.
__(B.) A much inferior woman was Lady Colquhoun, of Scotland. Her Memoir, written ten by James Hamilton, D.D., of London, is published by the Carters, New York. She
might be much inferior to Mary Lyon and yet be, as she was, a shining light in her circle. I make an extract from her Journal:
__”I have begun a new plan at our school on Sundays–a class for grown-up girls. They commit nothing to memory. But I explain the Bible and Catechism. * * * The class is flourishing and always increasing. Several old people attend regularly and I hope to have more. * * *I have a pretty large congregation and it needs some nerve . But I hope to be able to go on, and I hear it is much liked. May God send a blessing!”
__Her biographer adds:
__”These Horae Sabbaticae were not only very popular, but became extremely useful. During the week her ladyship studied with much care the passage which she intended to explain, and exerted herself to find anecdotes and illustrations which might ren-
der it more interesting and memorable.* Her manner was full of calm benevolence and mild persuasion; and whatever nervousness she might feel, her address was so fluent, natural and dignified that the thoughts of the audience were solely directed to the subject. In unison with that devout and holy life which they all knew that their instructress led, those exhortations were singularly impressive, On a dying bed more than one of her young hearers gave evidence of having been by this means brought to the Savior; and from the grateful tenderness in which many of the survivors hold their teacher’s memory it may be hoped that all her works have not yet followed her.”
__If space allowed I should be pleased to
*An excellent aid in such exercises may be found in Arvine’s Cyclopedia of Moral and Religious Anecdotes, published by Leavitt & Co., New York.
give other extracts from her Ladyship? journal, and her biographer’s remarks upon he right and wrong manner in conducting such classes. But you may read the book.
__(C,) I commend to your careful perusal a little work published by the American Tract Society, entitled ” Systematic Beneficence. ” You will do much good by circulating that little book A number of copies may be purchased for a small sum.
__(D.) While writing one of the concluding paragraphs of this little volume I was reminded, of an article I had contributed in December of 1850, to the “Southern Lady’s Companion,” published at Nashville, Tenn. Some of the sentiments of that sketch are repeated in this address. It contains, however, an exemplification of some of the truths herein set forth, and is preserved in this Appendix in the hope that it may be made more
extensively useful. Its title is “James Brainard Taylor’s Miss W___.”
__”If any of the readers of this magazine have never read the memoirs of James Brainard Taylor, I am happy to have it in my power to name to them a volume, the perusal of which must be profitable to every reader, especially to the young. Taylor was a self-denying, devoted Christian, whose labors for the cause of Jesus were abundantly blessed in turning many from darkness to light. And yet he held no elevated position in society, in the church or in the state. He was not even pastor of a church. A mere student in theology, not gifted with superior talents, by the force of a holy life and a pure conversation, by a wise consecration of his time and his abilities to the great work, he succeeded in winning souls to our Lord Jesus Christ. Being dead, lie yet speaketh,–his memoir
having been blessed to the edification of a large circle of readers.
__There are many young persons in the church who often feel a desire to be useful. When they reflect upon the great work which is yet to be done; when they think of the halo which crowns and glorifies the names of the blessed dead who have served their generation; or when they read of some tremendous blow which has been dealt by a powerful arm to the idol which the world worships, or hear of some encounter on the great moral battle-field, in which the spiritual prowess of some lofty soul has turned the tide of war against the banners of Error,–they long to do something which shall leave its mark on earth and carry its trophies to heaven. If all these longings resulted according to their dreams, how many a glorious institution would rise amid the
world’s crying wants! how many an idol-temple would be supplanted by a sanctuary of the most holy faith! how many a dark place of the earth, wherein dwelleth cruelty, would be penetrated by the cheerful and healthful light of the Sun of Righteousness! Why, with so many desires to do good, are they so comparatively useless? Is the defect in their heads? No! it is in their hearts.
__Allow me, young Christian reader, to show this to you, if I can. You wish to be useful. The spirit of our blessed religion is the spirit of doing good. It is also an enlarging spirit. ” The field is the world ” is a grand saying, never to be forgotten. But your difficulty is, that you wish to sow the whole field over with one single grand broad-cast, which shall fling into every furrow at once seed that shall instantly spring to a harvest, to gladden earth, and, if possible, astonish heaven. You
are not willing to take the little plot just before your door, and clear it up by the patient picking out of rocks and grubbing up of roots ; that work is all too little for you, and too unromantic. You will not have the stimulus of a thousand seeing eyes and a thousand encouraging smiles. Does not this show that there is something wrong at the heart? You would be a missionary to China. You would like to be a Mrs. Judson, to have memoirs written of you, when dead, and thousands of copies of volumes of memorials and offerings published, with your name on the title instead of hers. That would be very fine. But you forget the fact, that you do not labor faithfully, devotedly, without pride or vanity, in the nearest Sabbath school, among the poor, neglected adults or children living on the same square in the same city with you, perhaps, or certainly within a mile or two of
your father’s residence,–that you are not striving to make that father’s family a model of a perfect Christian household, not training your brothers and sisters to the ways of the Cross, not striving to bring the servants of the household to the blessed Saviour of us all, that this failure on your part is positive proof that you are not ready to go from home to work for Jesus. Remember, that those who go–if there be such deceived souls-to the foreign lands for the mere name and grandeur of the thing, have their reward on earth, and have nothing to look for in the skies. Remember, also, that a soul saved in your own village, or at your own fireside through your instrumentality, will shine as brightly in the crown which Jesus will give you, and will bring as much glory to his blessed name, as though you found that soul in polar snows or oriental jungles.
__But you would be useful in your own country, if you could only be sure that you possess such talents as such-and-such-a-one ; if you could only be a distinguished preacher, or could found or support an asylum or a school, or some such benevolent institution. You have not yet discovered, perhaps–and the discovery may be painful to you when made–that some of the most talented, and, I will add, distinguished ministers of the church, are doing less for the cause of the Saviour than many an inferior and comparatively unknown brother. You forget that they are exposed to a thousand temptations which never reach the humbler and more hidden child of God. You do not recollect, that the greatest injuries inflicted upon the church of Jesus, come from her most gifted sons. You are cot to be judged by the measure which mill be applied to them; the rule
for each to adopt, in striving to do good, is, Now–here–all I can–always.
__ The disposition of the church in this day is, to undervalue, or at least to overlook the value of the plan of bringing men, soul by soul , to Jesus. We must do something splendid, or nothing at all. The eclat of crowds, eloquence, magnificent machinery, is what attracts us. But suppose each member of the church caught the soul-winning spirit, and depended more upon God’s blessing on the outshining of a holy heart in a holy life, and each so lived as in the course of every year to bring at least one more into the army of laborers,–horn soon would the world be converted, thoroughly converted! Read the memoirs of such humble men as Harlan Page and James Brainard Taylor, and then calculate upon the supposition that all church members did as much as they–and theirs
was not a more favorable position than that of most Christians,–and that the number of converts went on, as it should, in geometric ratio, and see how soon the world would be reclaimed to God and his Christ!
__Some of those situations in life which appear, at first sight, least favorable to extensive usefulness, may be so improved by a holy disciple as to become a fountain of many streams. In the memoir of James B. Taylor, there is frequent mention made of a Miss W___. The name of that lady was Pamela, Wigton. Wide spending the winter of 1839 in the city of New York, the Rev. Mr. Janes (now Bishop Janes) invited the writer of this sketch to take an appointment to preach every third Thursday night, in a private house, in conjunction with himself and Dr. Bangs. The invitation was accepted. I found the place in the third story of a
house in a small street in the lower end of the city. A long, dark, narrow passage, where two persons could scarcely walk abreast, led to a winding flight of stairs. At the head of this I found a room of moderate dimensions, very plainly, but very comfortably, and even neatly furnished. Propped with cushions in a rocking-chair, sat a lady of about fifty-five years of age, very interesting in her whole appearance, but very emaciated, and almost unable to assist herself in any respect. The oftener I visited her, the more and more lovely did she appear. For more than twenty years, I think she told me, she had been confined to her room, and a large portion of the time to her bed. Once she had been able to be carried carefully to a steamboat, and to go a short distance up the Hudson river. She suffered frequent and acute, and sometimes protracted pain.
I have sat for hours at her feet, listening to her conversation, which was rich in memorials of many prominent persons and events, but still richer in a varied and profound Christian experience. Sometimes, for whole minutes, paroxysms of pain would seize her, and I could tell when they were coming by the increasing pressure of her hand; and then she would be silent for a short time, and the twitching of her features betrayed the agony which the firm and devout expression of her eyes showed she was endeavoring to endure in the strength which God supplies. Then her hand would relax, and her features fall into their usual play, and, with an ejaculation of thanksgiving, a tear or two, expressed by pain, standing in her mild eyes, while mine were moist with sympathy, she would ask to be reminded of the subject of our conversation, and resume her remarks with a
cheerfulness which I could scarcely comprehend. Every attention, no matter how small, she would receive with, if nothing more, an appreciating look, which made it a pleasure to smooth her pillow, or adjust her cushion, or hold a cup of water to her lips. So beautiful was grace in her, that it soon became a delight to be in her presence. Many a time have I walked whole blocks in a dark and rainy night, and often when in pain myself, to be soothed and strengthened by an example which preached endurance with a wonderful power, and a voice made musical by love. Though dim of vision, she seemed instinctively to know the state of my feelings from the tones of my voice; and when, sick and jaded, I came to her from some public service, or from my desk, she would part my hair with her trembling hands, and kiss my forehead with a motherly affection that made
me feel like a child, and then talk to me of Christian heroism, and of the noble souls who have toiled in pain for the fadeless crown, till I felt the spirit of a man revived in me. No one knows how many an hour I have spent in that obscure place, nor the blessed influence which that holy invalid exerted over my youthful ministry.
__It was a preaching place, as I have said. Those who have heard Bishop Janes often, know the peculiar character of his preaching; how full it is of Christ and of Christian consolation. Perhaps some of the very finest of those thoughts and expressions which have won the almost loving attention of the thousands who have waited in crowds upon his ministry, were uttered in that little room, to half a dozen persons, Methodists, Baptists, and Presbyterians: for all classes and all denominations, who knew Miss Wigton,
delighted in visiting her. By much the best sermon I ever heard delivered, was preached at Miss W.’s, from 1 Peter ii, 7,–“To you, therefore, which believe, he is precious.” The light that played on the invalid’s face, was a beautiful and forceful commentary upon the text, and a striking corroboration of the sermon. In the long period of her illness, she had enjoyed the services of many of the Lord’s servants, and her recollection of their discourses and conversations furnished her with abundant materials for the entertainment and edification of her visitors.
__Who would not say, at first sight, that her scope and verge of labor and of usefulness was very limited? She was sick, weak, in pain, confined to her room, subsisting upon the benefactions of others; withal, she had no superior intellectual gifts, and had had very little advantage of education. And
yet, her influence was felt in the far west of America, and in Europe. By the assistance of her friends, she maintained a correspondence with Christians at great distances, who had been profited by her example and conversation. I acted as her amanuensis in writing to a clergyman in the West who had entered the ministry as a man would enter upon the practice of the law. After a few years of almost utter uselessness, he became acquainted with Miss W. She soon found that he “had not the root of the matter in him,” that he was destitute of a proper knowledge of the plan of salvation, and had no interest in the atonement. She commenced to make his deficiencies manifest to himself. He became convinced that he was a sinner. His agony for some time was very great ; but with a holy wisdom she led the stricken sinner to the lamb of God, and there at her feet
he was converted, and returned to his people a new man in Christ Jesus, ready to do a great work. When John Summerfield commenced his ministry in America, he received much spiritual nursing from this mother in Israel. She loved him dearly. It was delightful to hear her talk of that young disciple. When James Brainard Taylor first went to New York as a subordinate clerk, I think, in some establishment, he was very thoughtless and wayward. His brother took him to see Miss W. She became interested in him at once, and succeeded in winning him to her. There was n thing querulous, peevish, disagreeable, or repulsive in Miss W. The young could love her. She soon gained a mastery over the mind of young Taylor. By degrees, she interested him in religious subjects, and then in the subject of his personal salvation, until “the day dawned
and the shadows fled away,” and he was a free man in Christ Jesus. The Lord led him to the work of the ministry, and during his preparatory studies, he was instrumental in turning many from darkness to light. The Lord took him from the evil to come, but not before he had opened springs which shall flow down through the history of the church. The letters which he wrote to Miss W., she preserved as a sacred memorial of his excellence and holiness. Some of them appear in his memoirs, and I have had the pleasure of having for a short time in my possession the little green bag in which they were so carefully deposited.
__She has followed Taylor to the rest of the saints. Her sufferings have ended, and the purified gold has gone up to adorn the temple on high; but with what warmth does the memory of her virtues lie on the hearts of
many who have enjoyed her society on earth. What an example of endurance, in these latter times! No mission to China, or to the islands of the sea, could be sublimer than hers. She was a living witness to the triumphs of faith over poverty, suffering, and confinement. She was poor, but made many rich ; she was unknown, and yet well known; she had no thing, and yet, possessed all things; she was dying, yet behold she lived. How many young ladies in our church would look upon the imprisonment for twenty years in a chamber of sickness as being a prolonged death! O! ye daughters of Ease, learn to look upon your lives in the blaze of fortune and fashion as despicable, when compared with hers. Ye that are sick and poor, and wish to do something for your Lord, “learn” not only ” how sublime,” but how Christian and how useful “a thing it is to suffer and be
strong.” A holy life– that is usefulness. Holiness of heart, in His members, is the lever with which His people must lift the world to lay it at the feet of Christ. If all the young were like Taylor, and all the aged and suffering like his Miss W., how lovely would Christianity become in the eyes of the world, and how powerfully would sinners be attracted to the Cross. I have written this sketch in the hope that the example to which it points may not be lost upon young women who by-and-by may be afflicted and in old age. There is no power in earth or hell to stay the irresistible influence of any human being whose soul is sanctified by the Spirit, and whose life is devoted to the work of Christ.