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course, in any demonstration, make it from a j and became distinguished for having "faculty," religious point of view; and thus the young girl ] which was the term for what our English sisters become expert as manager of missionary, Bible, call cleverness.
The girl of the' past was terribly in earnest; she obeyed the apostolic injunction, "Whatsoever your hands find to do, do with your might." She was an excellent housekeeper, though most likely ma rric<l at sixteen, rising early and superintending eve rything from attic to cellar. She wove, spun, made up linen, wrought samplers and mourning-pieces and worked initials upon the garmentsol each member of the family. She Was, scrupulously neat and tidy, and busy as a bee from morning to i.ight. Slif was constant J"<J decorous at church, and faultless in her courtesies; she now brought a gentleman so near her v> l', answer him yes or no without the afti of sir.
She blushed readily—you may ».« the blush implies self-consciousness — that may be, but'' ii not the less f-gaging, just as IK down upon thepcic'<
enhances our sense of its beauty. The bluih
The girl of the past had few novels to K
and charitable societies, making garments for the naked heathen of the tropics, and piously hoping to bring'Jthem to a sense of the decencies of life. She thus learned forecast and management and self-abnegation, and acquired executive ability,
The sphere of reading was rather limited in the past, and I am apt to think for the better; people were then more obliged to think for themselves, and having less to divert the attention, ideas took hold of the mind with a firmer grip, and sank deeper down. There may have been something over-austere in the girl of the past, but she was very much to be relied upon, and was very wholesome. She suggested always the idea of a lady. She may have seemed over-earnest, over-grave, and over-thoughtful; but out of such material sometimes a great hope to the world is evolved. Sometimes a country is redeemed thus by some true, steadfast heart, as the women of our own country mothered before the Revolution of '76 many a hero—the greatest of his age, and it seems to me of any age, being George Washington.
Out of such, if need be, martyrs are born, and great principles assume shape and coherence. Wrongs grow to be understood and exposed, and remedies are applied. Out of such come orderly households, God-serving men and women, expounders of hidden law, and clear-headed statesmen.
As I'have said, the old girl is lost to us, with her youngness, her sense of duty and maidenly blushes. The girl of to-day is totally unlike.
Her hands and feet are smaller; so is her head, and she is more sharp and knowing, quicker and more self-sustained. She seems older, somehow; so old that her mother dwindles into nothingness, and has the aspect of a dried-up apple upon a winter tree. I have heard this modern girl talk to her mother as if the relation of each were reversed, and the wisdom and authority of the household were merged in the younger woman. As the boy of the period calls his father the old man or the governor, so the girl of the period calls her mother little woman, or the maternal.
The girl of the past never called a gentleman by his Christian name unless nearly related; the one of to-day not only does this, but in speaking of him calls him a fellow. Slang is the predominant vice of to-day, with girls no less than with the boys; and we hear even those whose birth and education would lead us to expect better things of them telling you to "absquatulate; vamose the ranche," and using the "you bet; hurry up the cakes; bully for you; I mean biz; that's cheek," etc.
The girl of the day if not strong-minded, is
very strong-mannered She talks loud, and her vigorous laugh reminds one of Goldsmith's line:
And the loud laugh, that speaks the vacant mind.
She walks with a sweep and stride that is dangerous to her "pin-back." She looks you square in the face, which is well; but she stares so persistently that you think you have yourself a squint, or spot on the nose. She whistles like a coachman; she nudges, and pinches and winks; she haws, and maunders, and yawns in the presence of her superiors; she whispers in company, and leans across you to do so with a crony; she glances and giggles and whispers, and you are sure to be the subject of her gossip. She leaves the door open behind her, or shuts it with a bang. She goes up and down by the balusters of the stairs, or over them like a woman on the flying trapeze. She gets cross and uses epithets; she calls across the street to a companion with a "hullo !" or a whistle like that of a boy.
She laughs immoderately if her mother or another person makes a mistake in language; she points at objects with her whole hand; she eats apples in the street, and peanuts in the church ol an evening, and in the cars, and throws the shells upon the floor; she tosses orange-peel on the sidewalk, endangering life and limb to the passerby; in cars she piles her bag and wraps and basket upon the seat, and does not remove them, though she must see that the seat is needed; and when a passenger asks, "Is this seat engaged?" she answers, "Yes," under the wicked subterfuge that it is occupied by her baggage, or she tells a lie direct. She calls herself publicly by the pet name that should be sacredly preserved for those that are dear to us; the sweet home-name never to be desecrated. Once we had Marys, and Elizabeths, and Rachels, and Dorotheas, noble suggestive names, replete with tenderness and dignity; now these are only Minnies, and Bessies, and Raches, and Doras, and a dozen other prefixes of ie instead of the old honest y, that sometimes converted Mary into Polly, or Elizabeth into Betsy. In consequence, an undue familiarity and an absence of reserve is engendered, to the general detriment of manners and the virtues that spring from a becoming self-respect. There is a general slip-shodness, abandon, and unreserve about the modern girl that indicate tendencies to be regarded as the omen of the coming woman. Self
Now much of this is well, as indicating stamina, to a great purpose ; who is not sensitive about the crude material out of which comes the heroic, little things «ras born before nerves came into Vol. XIV.—24
fashion, and cares little what is said about her, so sure is she of being in the right herself. She is able to stand alone from the first, and has little to unlearn in the way of over-fastidiousness. She brings strong material with her, and the only question is, how will she use it? She can work out her will and way despite of criticism, which she will no more heed than the lion the dew upon his tawny mane; but how will she use this power? Is she to be the founder of a new type of woman? Is the age working its way to higher capabilities through our girls, or is it only enlarging the sphere of brute force?
Will the coming woman be heroic, or will she be simply coarse? Will she be nobly great in all the noblest attributes of a true womanhood, or will she be only stubbornly self-reliant and selfwilled? Be it remembered that to be womanly is to be scrupulously just, upright, and truthful; no subterfuge, no deceit, no rage, no hollow pretence, selfishness, unchastity. Womanliness is not merely in sex. All the virtues by common consent, by high art, are made to be feminine, hence more may be rightfully exacted of a woman than of a man. She naturally represents the higher morals, and to be less than this is to step down from the pedestal she has reached in the long ages.
Dr. Elliott of Harvard University has expressed a "hope that time will increase the differentiation of the sexes." This does not seem to be the natural order of things, the finest specimens of manliness and moral excellence also being found to approximate to the feminine, and the best specimens of enlarged womanly characteristics approaching the masculine, and this without any diminution of the qualities inherent in the difference of sex. The processes of the great law of development rather tend to the increase of moral ideas and the obliteration of the sexual; and thus the perfect righteousness for which prophets and poets sigh will at length be realized.
Again, we ask will she be the fresh, cheery, untiring aid to the realization of our higher humanitarian proclivities, or a shrew, a termagant, a reckless destructive, overthrowing the I finer progress of our civilization? Will she make inclination the law of life, or will she make duty the test of action? I remember Margaret Fuller used to cast contempt upon the graces of polite life, and talked of impulses and spontaneities, which may or may not be desirable according to
their quality—if they happen to be more emphatic than agreeable, more robust than safe or salutary, they become intolerable and dangerous.
Whatever be the result to the world, the women of to-day are pushing civilization to the verge of revolution, and the girls are suffering from a disgust at home life, a dread of marriage, and a generally aggressive state of feeling. They are restive under the least coercion, and hence manifold mistakes, manifold errors, nameless crimes and incalculable shame, misery and wickedness arise even among families of culture, where we might hope for a better state of morals; but there can be no safety in any household where duty is not made the great and all-abiding motive of action. One of our journalists in reviewing the life of Mrs. Jameson, so replete with self-denial, and a strict adhesion to duty, speaks of this as a painful, cheerless life. I do not think so; for there is a perpetual spring of enjoyment to those who live up to the highest perceptions of human response bility.
The very essence of a true life is self-abnegation, and nothing is more mean and destructive to our nobler capabilities than to live as if all the rest of the world were compelled to pay us tribute.
Another practice that distinguishes the girl of to-day is flirting. This was utterly unknown to the girl of the past, and is a part of that general idleness and laxness of purpose that belongs to our era. Girls having little to do, amuse themselves by a coquettish relation with one or more of the other sex, not designed to be serious, not intended to lead to anything more than the using up of much precious time by a free use of the dangerous foils of careless humor and idle repartee; but which is most likely to terminate in something not quite pleasant, or even decorous. Its worst feature is that it creates a distaste to marriage, and is thus an injury to both parties.
Though the marriage relation ought not to be the end and aim of a girl's life, it is certainly most desirable that at some suitable age she should enter into it, as the best conservation of sanctity and affection for one of the other sex. She will be more useful and occupy a higher position in society as a wife than as an old maid. There is always something pitiful in the aspect of an old unmarried woman. The character is more likely to be perfected in and through marriage, and if some suffering and some trouble follow, the wife