The Young Woman's Guide

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The Young Woman's Guide

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William A. Alcott

[Illustration: Retirement, rural quiet, friendship, books, Ease and alternate labour, useful life, Progressive virtue, and approving Heaven! Thomson]


This work was begun, soon after the appearance of the Young Man's Guide--and was partially announced to the public. For reasons, however, which I have not room to give in this place, it was thought proper to defer its publication till the appearance of several other volumes in the same spirit, involving more particularly the relative duties.

I wish to have it distinctly understood, that I do not propose to give a complete manual of the social and moral duties of young women. Every one has his own way of looking at things, and I have mine. Some of the duties of young women have appeared to me to receive from other writers less attention than their comparative importance demands; and others-- especially those which are connected with the great subject of "temperance in all things"--I have believed to be treated, in several respects, erroneously.

Permit me, however, to say, that while I have not intended to follow the path, or repeat the ideas of any other writer, I have not attempted to avoid either the one or the other. If I have presented here and there a thought which had already come before the public from my own pen, I can only say that I did not intend it, although I did not take special pains to avoid it. The sum is this. I have presented my thoughts, without so much reference to what has already been said by myself or others, as to what I have supposed to be the necessities of those for whom I write. I have gone straight forward, asking no questions; and I trust I shall be dealt with in a manner equally direct.



Defining terms. The word excellence here used as nearly synonymous with holiness. What is meant by calling the work a Guide. The term Woman-- why preferable, as a general term, to Lady. The class to whom this work is best adapted.


Comparison of the responsibilities of young men and young women. Saying of Dr. Rush. Its application to young women. Definition of the term education. Bad and good education. Opinions of Solomon. Influence of a young woman in a family--in a school. Anecdotes of female influence. West, Alexander, Cæsar, Franklin. Story of a domestic in Boston. The good she is doing. Special influence of young women in families--and as sisters. Female influence in the renovation of the world.


Views of Agesilaus, king of Sparta--of Solomon, king of Israel. Mistake corrected. What the wisest and best parents cannot do. What, therefore, remains to the daughter. Necessity of self-education. The work of self education the work of life--a never-ending progress upward to the throne of God.


Female capabilities. Doing every thing in the best possible manner. Unending progress. Every person and every occupation susceptible of improvement, indefinitely. Doing well what is before us. Anecdote illustrative of this principle. Personal duties. Two great classes of persons described. Hopes of reaching the ears of the selfish.


Vast extent of the science of self-knowledge. Spurious self-knowledge. Knowledge of our physical frame--its laws and relations. Examples of the need of this knowledge. Instruments of obtaining it. The use of lectures. Study of our peculiarities. Study of mental philosophy. The Bible. How the Bible should be studied.


Is there any conscientiousness in the world? How far conscientiousness should extend. Tendency and power of habit. Evils of doing incessantly what we know to be wrong. Why we do this. Errors of early education. False standard of right and wrong. Bad method of family discipline. Palsy of the moral sensibilities. Particular direction in regard to the education of conscience. Results which may be expected.


What self-government includes. Cheerfulness a duty. Discretion. Modesty. Diffidence. Courage. Vigilance. Thoughts and feelings. The affections. The temper. The appetites and passions.


Presence of mind. Examples. Napoleon. Female example. Mrs. Merrill. Use of the anecdote. Self-command to be cultivated. In what manner. Consult the experience of others. Consult your own reason and good sense. Daily practice in the art of self-command.


Decision of character as important to young women as to others. Why it is so. Illustration of the subject by a Scripture anecdote. Misery and danger of indecision. How to reform. Perseverance. Errors of modern education.


Fashionable education. Why there is so little self-dependence in the world. Why orphans sometimes make out well in the world. Error corrected. What young women once were. What they are now. The best character formed under difficulties. Cause of the present helpless condition of females. Three or four to get breakfast. Modes of breaking up these habits. Anecdote of an independent young woman. Appeal to the reader.


Females not expected to be reasoners. Effects of modern education on the reasoning powers. Education of former days, illustrated by an anecdote of an octogenarian. Extracts from her correspondence. Difficulty in getting the ears of mankind. The reasoning powers in man susceptible of cultivation indefinitely. Reflections on the importance of maternal effort and female education.


Why woman has invented so few things. Abundant room for the exercise of her inventive powers. Hints. Particular need of a reform in cookery. Appeal to young women on this subject.


Advice of Dr. Dwight. Other counsels to the young. Some persons of both sexes are always seeing, but never reflecting. An object deserving of pity. Zimmerman's views. Reading to get rid of reflection. Worse things still.


Universal prevalence of detraction and slander. Proofs. Shakspeare. Burns the poet. Self-knowledge, how much to be desired. Reference to the work of Mrs. Opie--to our own hearts--to the Bible.


Great value of moments. An old maxim. Wasting shreds of time. Time more valuable than money. What are the most useful charities. Doing good by proxy. Value of time for reflection. Doing nothing. Rendering an account of our time at the last tribunal.


Reasons for loving domestic life. 1. Young women should have some avocation. Labor regarded as drudgery. 2. Domestic employment healthy. 3. It is pleasant. 4. It affords leisure for intellectual improvement. 5. It is favorable to social improvement. 6. It is the employment assigned them by Divine Providence, and is eminently conducive to moral improvement.--The moral lessons of domestic life. A well ordered home a miniature of heaven.


Economy becoming old fashioned. The Creator's example. Frugality and economy should he early inculcated. Spending two pence to save one, not always wrong. Examples of disregarding economy. Wasting small things. Good habits as well as bad ones, go by companies. This chapter particularly necessary to the young. Frugality and economy of our grandmothers.


General neglect of system in families. Successful efforts of a few schools. Why the effects they produce are not permanent. Importance of right education. Here and there system maybe found. Blessedness of having a mother who is systematic. Let no person ever despair of reformation. How to begin the work.


Evil of being one minute too late. Examples to illustrate the importance of punctuality. Case of a mother at Lowell. Her adventure. General habits which led to such a disaster. Condition of a family trained to despise punctuality.


The muscles, or moving power of the body. Their number and character. Philosophy and necessity of exercise. Why young women should study these. Various kinds of exercise. 1. Walking. 2. Gardening and agriculture. 3. House-keeping. 4. Riding. 5. Local exercises.-- Difficulty of drawing the public attention to this subject. The slavery of fashion. Consequences of the fashionable neglect of exercise. A common but shocking sight.


Why rest and sleep are neglected. Sleep a condition. We should sleep in the night. Moral tendency of not doing so. Is there any moral character in such things? Of rest without sleep. Good habits is regard to sleep. Apartments for sleep. Air. Bed. Covering. Temperature. Night clothing. Advice of Macnish on the number of persons to a bed. Preparation for sleep. Suppers. The more on indulge in sleep, the more sleep we seem to require. The reader urged to study the laws of rest and sleep. An appeal.


Education to industry. Man naturally a lazy animal. Indolence in females. Hybernation. Every young woman ought to be trained to support herself, should necessity require it, and to aid in supporting others. She should, at least, be always industrious. Kinds of labor, Mental labor as truly valuable as bodily.


Is there no time for relaxation? May there not be passive enjoyments? Passive enjoyments sometimes wrong. How Christian visits should be conducted. Duty and pleasure compatible. Passive visits useful to childhood. Folly of morning calls and evening parties. Bible doctrine of visiting. Abuse of visiting.


Miss Sedgwick on good manners. Her complaint. Just views of good manners. Good manners the natural accompaniment of an good heart. The Bible the best book on manners. Illustrations of the subject.


Dr. Bell's new work on Health and Beauty. Its value. Adam and Eve probably very beautiful. Primitive beauty of our race to be yet restored. Sin the cause of present ugliness. Never too late to reform. Opinion of Dr. Rush. An important principle. The doctrine of human perfectibility disavowed. Various causes of ugliness. Obedience to law, natural and moral, the true source of beauty. Indecency and immorality of neglecting cleanliness.


Reasons for discussing these topics. Every person should undergo a thorough ablution once a day. Quotation from Mrs. Farrar. Two important objects gained by cold bathing. Its value as an exercise. Various forms of bathing. Philosophy of this subject. Vast amount of dirt accumulating on the surface. Statement of Mr. Buckingham. Bathing necessary in all employments. Offices of the skin, and evil consequences of keeping it in an uncleanly condition.


Legitimate purposes of dress--as a covering, a regulator of temperature, and a defence. Use of ornaments. Further thoughts on dress. How clothing keeps us warm. Errors in regard to the material, quality, and form of our dress. Tight lacing--its numerous evils. Improvement of the lungs by education. Objections to the use of personal ornaments.


Tendency of young women to dosing and drugging. "Nervousness." Qualms of the stomach. Eating between our meals--its mischiefs. Evils of more direct dosing. What organs are injured. Confectionery. The danger from quacks and quackery.


The art of taking care of the sick should be a part of female education. Five reasons for this. Doing good. Doing good by proxy. Great value of personal services. How can young women be trained to these services? Contagion. Breathing bad air. Aged nurses. . Scientific instruction of nurses. Visiting and taking care of the sick a religious duty. Appeal to young women.


Futility of the question whether woman is or is not inferior to man. Conversation as a means of improvement. Taciturnity and loquacity. Seven rules in regard to conversation. Reading another means of mental progress. Thoughts on a perverted taste. Choosing the evil and refusing the good. Advice of parents, teachers, ministers &c. Advice of a choice friend. Young people reluctant to be advised. Set hours for reading. Reading too much. Reading but a species of talking. Composition. Common mistakes about composing. Attempt to set the matter right. Journalizing. How a journal should be kept. Music. Vocal music something more than a mere accomplishment. Lectures and concerts. Studies. Keys of knowledge.


Improvement in a solitary state. The social relations. Mother and daughter. Father and daughter. Brother and sister. The elder sister. Brethren and sisters of the great human family. The family constitution. Character of Fidelia. Her resolutions of celibacy. In what cases the latter is a duty. A new and interesting relation. Selection with reference to it. Principles by which to be governed in making a selection. Evils of a hasty or ill-judged selection. Counsellors. Anecdote of an unwise one. Great caution to be observed. Direction to be sought at the throne of grace.


Importance of progress. Physical improvement a means rather than an end. The same true of intellectual improvement. The general homage which is paid to inoffensiveness. Picture of a modern Christian family. Measuring ourselves by others. Our Saviour the only true standard of comparison. Importance of self-denial and self-sacrifice. Blessedness of communicating. Young women urged to emancipate themselves from the bondage of fashion, and custom, and selfishness.




Defining terms. The word excellence here used as nearly synonym with holiness. What is meant by calling the work a Guide. The term Woman-- why preferable, as a general term, to Lady. The class to whom this work is best adapted.

It has been said, and with no little truth, that a large proportion of the disputes in the world might have been avoided, had the disputants first settled the meaning of the terms they respectively used. In like manner might a large share of the misapprehension and error in the world be avoided, if those who attempt to teach, would first explain their terms.

This work is called "The Young Woman's Guide to EXCELLENCE," because it is believed that excellence, rather than happiness, should be the leading aim of every human being. I am not ignorant that happiness-- present and future--is proposed as our "being's end and aim," not only by as distinguished a poet as Alexander Pope, but also by as distinguished a philosopher as William Paley. But these men did not learn in the school of Christ, that our "beings end and aim" is happiness, present or future. The Christian religion, no less than Christian philosophy and sound common sense, teaches that holiness or excellence should be the leading aim of mankind. Not that "the recompense of reward," to which the best men of the world have had regard in all their conduct, is to be wholly overlooked, but only that it should not be too prominent in the mind's eye, and too exclusively the soul's aim; since it would thus be but a more refined and more elevated selfishness. Real excellence brings happiness along with it. Like godliness--which, indeed, is the same thing--it has the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. And that happiness which is attainable without personal excellence or holiness, is either undeserved or spurious. The world. I know, very generally seek after it, whether deserved or undeserved; and whether willing or not to pay the price.

My object is to assist, if I can, in removing from our world the error of seeking happiness as a primary object. Let us but pursue excellence, and happiness will almost inevitably follow. I address this exhortation to Young Women, in particular, for reasons which will be seen when I come, in the next chapter, to speak of female responsibilities. Let every young woman aspire to high degrees of purity and excellence. Let her great aim be, to be personally holy--like God her Saviour. To this end and with this aim, let her be ready to set aside, if necessary, father and mother, and brother and sister--yes, and her own life also, --assured that if she does it with a sacred regard to God and duty, all will be well. Let her but follow Christ according to the gospel plan, if it lead her to prison and to death. But it will not thus lead her. For every self-denial or self-sacrifice it involves, she will secure, as a general rule, manifold more in this present life, and in the world to come, life everlasting.

This book is not called "The Young Woman's GUIDE," with the expectation that she will consider it her only or even her principal guide. The Bible should be the principal guide of every person, young or old, male or female. Parents, also, are invaluable as guides. I offer it only as the best guide which my reflections upon those subjects, connected with the welfare of young women, that come within the department of my study and observation, enable me to give. May it prove a guide indeed!

I have called it "The Young WOMAN'S Guide," because there are many who are accustomed to associate with the word lady; the idea of exemption from labor, and of entire devotion to something supposed to be above it--as fashionable company, or fashionable dress and equipage. And not a few can hardly hear the word mentioned without disgust. Miss Sedgwick has illustrated this part of my subject very happily in the first and fifteenth chapters of her "Means and Ends." She says she does not write exclusively for those who are termed young ladies; because she does not believe in any such fixed class, in the country. The term lady, she also says, is too indefinite for any valuable use. We not only apply it to those who are, or would be, above labor, but in a great many other ways--as that "old lady," meaning, perhaps, some beggar at the door, &c.

In short, she does not like the use of the phrase, young lady, at all. Neither do I. Besides, I like best the good old fashioned term, YOUNG WOMAN. This exactly represents the class for whom I write, and that, too, without either explanation or qualification. It will be mistaken by no one, nor will it be likely to give or cause any offence.

Finally, I call the work "The YOUNG Woman's Guide," because I design it for those single persons of the female sex to whom the term young is usually applied; viz., those who are from twelve or fourteen to eighteen or twenty years of age--and to those, in general, who are single. I hope, nevertheless, that it will contain some thoughts which may be useful to those individuals who are in married life, as well as to those who are below the age of twelve years. Many of its suggestions and principles will, indeed, be applicable--so far as they are just or true--to all mankind.



Comparison of the responsibilities of young men and young women. Saying of Dr. Rush. Its application to young women. Definition of the term education. Bad and good education. Opinions of Solomon. Influence of a young woman in a family--in a school. Anecdotes of female influence. West, Alexander, Cæsar, Franklin. Story of a domestic in Boston. The good she is doing. Special influence of young women in families--and as sisters. Female influence in the renovation of the world.

Much has been said, within a few years, of the duties, responsibilities, &c., of young men, especially the young men of our republic. A great deal that has been said, has, in my view, been appropriate and well-timed. My own attention has been frequently turned to the same class of individuals; nor do I regret it. My only regret is, that what I have said, has not been said to better purpose. Counsels and cautions to young men, standing on slippery places as they confessedly do, can hardly be too numerous, provided those who give them, use discretion, and remember their responsibility, not only to the tribunal of public opinion, but to a tribunal still higher.

The snares, the dangers, the difficulties, the influence, the responsibilities of young men--at least in the United States--can hardly be overrated. Would that they could be so trained and directed as fully to understand them, and govern themselves accordingly! Would that they could be made to exert that moral influence in the salvation of our race--politically no less than morally, nationally no less than individually--of which they are so capable.

Yet, after every concession of this kind, I am compelled to believe that the responsibilities and influence of young women--to say nothing at present of their dangers--are much more weighty than those of young men. I am decidedly of opinion, that the future holiness and happiness of the world in which we live, depend much more on the character of the rising generation of the female sex, than on the character of our young men.

It was said by Dr. Rush, long ago, that mothers and school-masters plant the seeds of nearly all the good and evil in our world.

Presuming that by school-masters he meant teachers of both sexes, will any one doubt the truth of his assertion? Will any one doubt the justness of a remark in the late "Western Review," that if this world is ever to become a better and a happier world, woman must be foremost, if not the principal agent in rendering it so?

But as mothers are never mothers till they have been daughters, is it not obvious that the right education of these last is as great a work as any to which human mind and human effort have ever been called? If woman moves the world, intellectually, morally, and even, in effect, politically--as no doubt she does--is it not of primary importance that she be taught, as well as teach herself, to move it right?

Can it be necessary to advert, in this place, to the well known and acknowledged fact, that almost every man of extensive influence, for good or for evil, whom the world has produced, became what he was through maternal influence? Cæsar, and Caligula, and Talleyrand, and Napoleon, became what they were in consequence of their mothers, no less than Alfred, and Doddridge, and Howard, and Washington. For let it not be forgotten that mothers and teachers, according to Dr. Rush--and, in fact, according to common observation, too--plant the seeds of the world of evil no less than of the world of good. How exceedingly important, then, that they should be well educated, "from whom," in the language of another writer, "our virtues are, and from whom our vices may be"--we would add must be--"derived;" at least in no small proportion!

But I am using the term education without explaining it. Let me, then, ere I proceed to say more on the subject of female responsibility, explain what I mean by education, especially female education.

Mere instruction in the sciences is, indeed, education; it is, however, but a very small part of it. To educate, is to train up. In this view, all are of course educated; and every thing which has an influence in developing mind or body, and in training up, either for good or for evil, is entitled, justly, to the name of education.

But if the above definition be just--if whatever concerns our development, or the formation of any part of our character, physical, intellectual, social or moral, is education--then it must follow that there are two kinds of education, bad and good. All persons, places and things, which affect us (and what does not affect us?) and influence us, for good or for evil, must educate us.

I am aware that this definition is not new: still, it is not generally received, or if received, not generally acted upon. There is still an almost universal clinging to the old, inadequate, incorrect idea, that the principal part of education consists in the cultivation of the intellect; and that, too, by set lessons; received, for the most part, at the schools. The true idea of education, therefore, must be continually enforced, till it becomes common property, and until mankind act as if they believed what they profess in regard to it.

When Solomon says, "Train up a child in the way he should go," he is talking of what I call education; and the kind of education which he is there recommending, is good education. I do not believe he had the schools in his mind--the infant school, the Sabbath school, the common school, the high school, or the university.

Far be it from me to attempt to detract from the value of our schools; on the contrary, I regard them as of inestimable worth, when duly attended to. What I insist on is, that they are not the all in all of education; and that, in fact, their influence in training up or forming good character, is so trifling--that is, comparatively--that they scarcely deserve to be thought of when speaking of education, as a whole, especially the education of daughters. And though one of the tribes of the nation to which Solomon belonged, over which he reigned, and for whom, in particular, he wrote, is said to have been school- masters by profession, and another priests, I can hardly conceive that when he was inspired to give the educational advice just alluded to, he ever turned so much as a thought to the little corner of Palestine allotted to Simeon, or to the Levites in their respective but more scattered stations.

Solomon was, in all probability, addressing himself chiefly to the fathers and mothers, and grand-fathers and grand-mothers, and other relatives of Israel; the class who, by their united influence, make the son and daughter, and grand-son and grand-daughter, what they are--a blessing or a curse to the world in which they are to live. For, according as children are brought up by these teachers, and by the influences which are shed upon them from day to day and from hour to hour, so are they well or ill educated.

If I have been successful in presenting the meaning of a term which is not only frequently used in this book, but almost every where else, it will follow, as a matter of course, that I do not attach too much importance to the education of daughters themselves, nor to their education as the teachers of others. For if to educate, is to form character, what young woman can be found, of any age or in any family, who is not a teacher?

Have young women often considered--daughters, especially--how much they influence younger brothers and sisters, if any such there are in the family where they dwell? Have they considered how much they sometimes influence the character--and how much more they might do it--not only of their school-mates and play-mates, but also of their more aged friends and companions--their parents, grand-parents, and others? [Footnote: On reading these paragraphs in manuscript, to one of our more eminent teachers, he observed that if he had been useful in the world, he owed his usefulness to the exertions of a maiden lady who resided in his father's family, while his character was forming.]

I could tell them--were this the place for it--many a true story of reading daughters who have been the means of awakening, in their aged parents, or grand-parents, or other friends, a taste for reading, which they might otherwise have gone down to the grave without acquiring. I could tell them of many a father and mother, and grand-father and grand-mother, grown grey in vice--hardened even by intemperance as well as other vices--who have been reformed by the prattle, or the reproof, or the prayers of a good daughter. Is not such a daughter a teacher?

But I am most anxious to convince young women of their responsibilities in regard to the rising generation, especially their own brothers and companions. I am anxious, if I can, to convince all who read this volume, that God has, by his providence, committed to their charge, in no small degree, the bodies, and minds, and the souls of those with whom, in this world, they are associated. That according to their own conduct, good or ill, will be, in no small measure, the health, and knowledge, and excellence of their friends and companions. That according to their efforts--attended, either by the blessing of God, or the tokens of his displeasure--will be the condition of millions, for time and for eternity.

But is it so? Are daughters, as daughters merely--to say nothing, as yet, of maternal influence--are daughters thus influential? Is it true that the destiny of millions is thus committed to their keeping?

I have seen the conduct of a whole school--I speak now of the common or district school--graduated by the conduct of a single virtuous, and amiable, and intelligent young woman, not twelve years old, who attended it. I have seen a whole Sabbath school not a little affected by the prompt attention, decorous behaviour and pious example of some elder member of an older class, to whom the younger members of classes, male and female, looked up, as to a sort of monitor, or I know not what to call it--for the impression thus made, is better seen and felt than described. The bad behaviour of a young woman, in these circumstances, is, indeed, equally influential--nay, more so, inasmuch as the current of human nature sets more readily downward than upward. Still, a good example is influential--greatly so: would that it were generally known how much so!

Suppose now that by your good behaviour and pious example in the Sabbath school, you are the means of turning the attention of one younger companion, male or female, to serious things, and of bringing down upon that young person the blessing of Almighty God. Suppose that individual should live to teach or to preach, or in some other form to bless the world, by bringing numbers to the knowledge, and love, and inculcation of the very truth which has saved his own soul--and these last, in their turn, should become apostles or missionaries to others, and so on. Is there any end, at least till the world comes to an end, of the good influence which a good Sabbath school pupil may thus exert?

But this is something more than a supposed case. Is it not, in effect, just what is actually taking place around us in the world continually? Not, indeed, that a long train of good influences has been frequently set agoing in the Sabbath school--for Sabbath schools are but of recent origin. But people have always been led along to virtue or vice, to piety or impiety, to bless the world or to prove a curse to it, by one another. A word or a look from a relative, or friend, or acquaintance, in the school or somewhere else, has often given a turn to the whole character. A word, it is said, may move a continent. Something less than a word--a look or a smile of approbation--may move more than a continent. It may move not merely a West, [Footnote: A mother's kiss, in token of her approbation of some little pencil sketch, is believed by Benjamin West to have given the turn to his character--the character of a who said, and justly, that he painted for eternity. "That mother's kiss," he observes, "made me a painter."] but an Alexander, a Cæsar, a Napoleon, a Washington and a Howard--men who, in their turn, moved a world!

I have spoken of the influence which a young woman may have on millions through the medium of the Sabbath school. But if she may influence in this way, the millions of those who are to come after her, how much more may she do in forming character for the great future, in the family! Her presence in the Sabbath school is only once a week--an hour or two a day, once in seven days; whereas, her influence in the family is going on perpetually.

The clothes of Alexander the Great, are said to have been made, to a very great extent, by his sisters; and those of Augustus Cæsar were made for many years, by his. And can we doubt that these young females were influential, in a great many respects, in the education of these conquerors? What could the latter have done, but for the assistance and influence of mothers and sisters? And can we have any Alexanders and Cæsars, at the present day, to carry on the moral and intellectual conquests which are so necessary in the world, without the aid and co- operation of mothers and sisters?

Sisters little know--it is almost impossible for them ever to know--how much they do to bring about results,--to educate their brothers and friends, for the work which they perform, whether good or evil. The sisters of Franklin little knew what they were doing for "young Benny," as they called him, while they assisted their mother in taking care of his clothes, in preparing his food, and in ministering to his other physical wants--yes, and to the wants of his mind, too. Who can say that Benjamin Franklin would ever have been what Benjamin Franklin was, without their aid, joined to the efforts of their mother?

Many a young female, having caught, in some degree, the spirit of doing good, has sighed for opportunities. "What can I do?" she has seemed to say, "here at home. If I could be a missionary at Ceylon, or South Africa, or the Sandwich Islands, or even if I could be a teacher, I could, perhaps, do something. But as it is, I must remain a mere cypher in the world. I would do good, but I have no opportunities."

She who says this, is undoubtedly sincere. She is, however, greatly mistaken. Her opportunities for doing good--for exerting an influence to bless her race--"are neither few nor small." There is, indeed, a difference, a very great difference, in human conditions and circumstances; and yet I am persuaded, no female is so secluded as not to be able to fulfil, towards her race, a most important mission.

I know of an excellent female who is often heard lamenting her want of opportunity for usefulness. She has the spirit of doing good as she supposes, and as I fully believe. And yet she is miserable--she makes herself so--by repining continually at her want of ability to perform the good works which her heart meditates. She would rejoice to devote her self to the elevation of her race. She would gladly go to India, or the South Seas, if her age and uncultivated intellect did not exclude her from being a candidate. Now, without saying a word in disparagement of foreign missions--for the success of which I would gladly contribute largely, not only by prayers, but by pecuniary contributions--truth compels me to say of this female, that I am by no means sure she could do more for humanity, or more, in fact, for the cause of Christ, by a foreign mission, than she is now doing by a domestic one.

A domestic mission hers indeed is, in the fullest sense of the term. She is an ordinary domestic--and no more--in the family to which. she belongs. But what is the condition of that family? The head of it is the distinguished teacher of a private female seminary. Here he has prepared hundreds of young women--so far, I mean, as the mere instruction of what he calls a "family school," is concerned--for usefulness as teachers, as sisters, as ministers to the aged, and as mothers to the young. Suppose he has instructed, in his comparatively excellent way, two hundred females. Suppose again one half of the females he has instructed and counselled and lived among, should, in their turn, each form as much character as he has already done--and he is yet but a middle aged man; and suppose half the disciples of each of these pupils in their turn should do the same, and thus on, till the year of our Lord 2000, only, which is, as we have reason to believe, but a little way towards the end of the world. Suppose one hundred only of each two hundred, should live to have influence, seventy-five of them as the mothers of families of the usual size, and twenty-five only, as teachers. There will then be five generations in one hundred and sixty years; and the number of children which will come under the influence of this line or succession of mothers and teachers, will be no less than ninety millions; or a number equal to six times the present population of the United States.

Now what I have here supposed, is by no means beyond the pale of possibility. Two hundred pupils is not a large number for one teacher to instruct during his whole life. Nor is twenty-five a large proportion of two hundred to become teachers. Nor is seventy-five a large number in two hundred to live to have families; nor two children in each family, upon an average, a very large number to come to maturity and have families in their turn. Besides, I have reckoned but four generations in one hundred and sixty years, exclusive of that now educating. So that I have kept my estimates within due bounds in every respect.

Do you ask what the domestic of whom I have spoken has to do with all this? I answer, much--very much indeed. Has she not rendered to the teacher in whose employ she has been, that kind of services, without which he could not have followed his occupation? And if ninety millions, or even one tenth that number of citizens should, in the course of the next two centuries, reap the benefit of his labors, and become lights in the world, is it too much to say that she has been an important aid in accomplishing the work? Nay, is it even too much to affirm that unless the part which she has acted had been performed by her or somebody else, the school could not have gone on, and two hundred young women could not have received the teacher's instructions?

Why, then, is not this humble domestic to whom I allude, a benefactor to her race--if a benefaction it is, to raise up and qualify for usefulness two hundred females--as well as he who has the whole credit of it? I will not, indeed, say that any thing like as much credit is due to her as to him; but I may say, and with truth, that she was an important auxiliary in producing the results that have been mentioned.

But if a humble domestic, one who imagines herself so obscure as to be of little service to a world which perhaps estimates her services almost as low as she does herself--if such an individual may, besides the general influence of her character upon a family, be an indispensable aid in the work of sending forth to the world a host of female missionaries, equal, in the progress of less than two centuries, at the dawn of the millennium, to ninety millions, what may not be done by a sister in a well ordered family--one who is not only well educated and governed herself, but who educates and governs others well?

It may indeed be said, that a domestic, in the family of a distinguished teacher, may indirectly influence, by her labors in the way I have mentioned, a far greater number of her race than most sisters are able to do. It may, indeed, be so. There is, however, another consideration. It is chiefly the externals of education which can receive attention, even in our best private schools. Little can be done, at the best, to form character--deep, permanent, and abiding character. Blessings indeed--great blessings--such schools are; but in proportion as their numbers are increased beyond those of our larger families, in the same proportion is the influence which might be exerted by the teacher, scattered and weakened; whereas, if the number be small, the influence of those who teach by example and by precept, is concentrated, and rendered efficient. There is no certainty that the feebler influence which is exerted on ninety millions, might not do more good by being concentrated on one tenth or one twentieth that number. In other words, if the same amount of pains were taken by mothers and sisters, and the same amount of labor bestowed for the purpose, there is no certainty that the world might not as soon be rendered what it should be through the medium of family education alone, as with the aid of other influences. Christianity, when brought to bear upon the family by the united exertions of father, mother, brothers and sisters, will probably have an influence on the regeneration of the world, of which no human mind--uninspired at least --has ever yet conceived.

Would that our young females--sisters especially--had but an imperfect conception of the power they possess to labor in the cause of human improvement! Would that they had but an imperfect idea of female responsibility!

My remarks are applicable to all young women; but they are particularly so to elder sisters. To them is given in special charge, the happiness and the destiny of all younger brothers and sisters, be they ever so numerous. As the desires of Abel were to be expressed to Cain, and the latter was appointed to rule over the former, so is the elder daughter appointed to rule over those whom God has, in the same manner, committed to her trust. Happy is she who has right views of her weighty responsibilities; but thrice happy is she who not only understands her duty, but does it!

But if the moral character, much more than the physical and intellectual well being of the family, is given in charge to elder sisters, and even to all sisters, it is scarcely possible for them to form a correct idea of the weight of their influence, in this respect at least, till they are past the age when that influence is most necessary, most persuasive, and most effectual.

I have seldom found a young man who had strayed long and widely from the path of virtue, who had enjoyed the society and influence of a wise, and virtuous, and attentive sister. On the contrary, I have almost uniformly found such individuals to have been in families where there were no sisters, or where the sisters were not what they ought to have been; or to have been kept at schools where there were none but our sex.

I beseech every young female reader to make herself acquainted, as far as she possibly can, with the nature of her influence, and the consequent responsibilities which devolve upon her. Let her understand that the day has gone by in which physical force was supposed to rule the world. Moral influence is now the order of the day; and they whose moral influence is most weighty and powerful, are they who most effectually bear rule. But as it is reserved for woman, when sensible, enlightened, virtuous and pious, to exercise the most weighty moral influence, consequently it is her province most effectually to bear rule. Kings, and emperors, and presidents, parliaments, and congresses, and assemblies, and courts, and legislators, and judges, may labor in vain to influence or to reform mankind, so long as female influence is not what it should be. But let females be rightly educated, and let them do what a good education will enable them to do, and vice will ere long hang her head, and virtue and piety--which alone exalt a nation, or the individuals that compose it--will resume their sway. Then will the wilderness and the solitary place be glad, and the desert rejoice and blossom as the rose.

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