Letters to a Daughter and A Little Sermon to School Girls



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

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

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

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

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

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

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