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- Serious Hours of a Young Lady - 1/23 -


Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions.

SERIOUS HOURS

OF

A YOUNG LADY,

BY

CHARLES SAINTE FOI.

Translated from the French

BY PHILALETES

PREFACE.

A celebrated author has justly remarked that Christian women can, like the guardian angels, invisibly govern the world; and the author of the "_Serious Hours of a Young Lady_" has very appropriately made this truth the basis of his book, since the object that he had in view in writing it was to point out the important role that woman plays in society, and to give the young girl such instructions as will enable her, in due time, to discharge, in a worthy manner, the duties of her calling. In doing this he has given evidence of very elevated views and of a profound knowledge of the human heart. The book is a tissue of practical counsels, couched in the clearest and most delicate terms.

Hence, judging from its intrinsic worth, and the universal welcome with which it has been hailed in the original, we feel that it is no exaggeration to assert that it has rendered and will still render inestimable good to society.

After having lucidly exposed the importance of woman's mission in this world, and pointed out the evils that prevent its realization, the author ingeniously brings before the mind's eye the different phases of her life, the varied process of development that she undergoes in all her faculties, the dangerous influences to which she is constantly exposed, the means that should be employed to ensure her protection.

We behold her on the threshold of childhood a tiny, timid and retiring creature, naturally disposed to attach her affections to all that is pure and elevated, to everything that conduces to the practice of virtue and the love of God. While yet a child she is the little confidante and angel of consolation of her brothers and sisters in their pains and difficulties. At a more advanced age we see her consoling her aged parents in their sorrows and afflictions; and when she merges into womanhood she becomes either the spouse of Jesus Christ or of man, only to continue the same work of beneficence in some charitable asylum, or in the midst of domestic cares. But ere she attains this last stage of life how numerous and great are the difficulties that she must encounter, the dangers to which she will be exposed, and the snares to entrap her!

Hence, to ensure her safety and prepare her to act the important role that she holds in society, her education must be the work of piety, modesty and retirement. All that interferes with their action in her soul must be peremptorily removed. Worldly pleasures with their numerous cortège should never have access to the sanctuary of her heart, for their poisoned influence blasts the fairest flower in her crown of simplicity.

But, alas! we confess, with deep regret, that there are many thoughtless tutors who seemingly ignore the grave responsibility of their charge, and unwarrantably parade the little one before the world's gaze, which creates in the heart evil impressions, frivolous tastes and inordinate desires. And, even when they would all prove faithful to their trust, it is a noted fact that society, friends and companions wield a powerful influence over the mind and heart of a young girl, which, when allowed to continue, most invariably proves pernicious to her spiritual and temporal welfare.

Hence, she stands in need of a true friend, a faithful adviser, on whom she can depend for safe instruction, and to whom she can have recourse as often as need be. The "_Serious Hours_" is unquestionably all this; it speaks openly, firmly, but mildly. It inspires the young girl with that genuine, lofty esteem that she should have for herself and for the dignity of her sex. It clearly defines her line of conduct in all the most critical incidents and circumstances of life, so that she cannot be deceived unless that she wilfully shuts her eyes to the light of truth. It is all that the author proposed to make it, a first class book of instruction for young ladies, showing a careful study of all their wants and a happy choice of the remedies to meet them. And, believing that such a valuable book ought to be made accessible to all nations, we have ventured to present it to the public in an English dress. How far we have succeeded in rendering both its form and spirit we leave the public to decide. And, while we are fully aware that, in transferring the genius of one language to another, some of the original delicate shades of beauty must be inevitably sacrificed--the present translation not excepted--still we are happy to say that the work was one of love and deep interest to us, on account of its importance and good to society.

TRANSLATOR.

CONTENTS:

Translator's Preface

CHAPTER I.--Importance of the Time of Youth; Difficulties and Dangers that Women Meet With in Life, and the Necessity of Providing for Them

CHAPTER II.--Illusions of Youth; Value of Time at this Period of Life

CHAPTER III.--The Heart of Woman; the Necessity of Regulating it During Youth

CHAPTER IV.--The Dignity of Woman

CHAPTER V.--Eve and Mary

CHAPTER VI.--Eve and Mary (Continued)

CHAPTER VII.--The World

CHAPTER VIII.--The Same Subject (Continued)

CHAPTER IX--The Will

CHAPTER X.--The Imagination

CHAPTER XI.--Piety

CHAPTER XII.--Vocation

CHAPTER XIII.--A Serious Mind

CHAPTER XIV.--Choice of Companions

CHAPTER XV.--Toilet

CHAPTER XVI.--Desire to Please

CHAPTER XVII.--Curiosity

CHAPTER XVIII.--Meditation and Reflection

CHAPTER XIX.--Obedience to Parents

CHAPTER XX.--Melancholy

CHAPTER XXI.--On Reading

CHAPTER XXII.--Same Subject (Continued)

CHAPTER I.

IMPORTANCE OF THE TIME OF YOUTH; DIFFICULTIES AND DANGERS THAT WOMEN MEET WITH IN LIFE, AND THE NECESSITY OF PROVIDING FOR THEM.

The most important period of life is that in which we are the better able, in making good use of the present, to repair the past and prepare for the future; that period holds the intermediate place between the age of infancy and the age of maturity, embracing the advantages of both, presenting at the same time the flowers of the one with the fruits of the other. In order to prepare for the future we need a certain assistance from the past, for this preparation demands a certain maturity of judgment and a force of will that experience alone can give.

The child, devoid as it is of personal experience, can, by turning that of others to good account, make up for the deficiencies of its youth, and prepare for the future without having to learn in the severe school of self-experience. But, through an unfortunate occurrence of circumstances, and very often without any fault of theirs, the greater part of children attain the age of manhood and womanhood without having reaped the precious advantages offered them by the first stage of life, when the soul is most susceptible of receiving the impress of grace and virtue. A vitiated or inadequate primitive education, bad example, pernicious instruction? perchance, or at least personal levity of character, combined with that of childhood, deprive this age of many advantages, and call for a total reparation of the past, at a period of life that should be the living figure of hope.

Happy, indeed, are those who have only the levity and negligences of childhood to repair, and who have never felt the crushing weight of a humiliating and grievous fault! Alas! that purity, that innocence so common formerly among children, is every day disappearing from their midst, many among them have become the victims of sin ere the


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