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- Serious Hours of a Young Lady - 10/23 -


the ass and the mule, whose attractions and repugnances are more imperious than those of other animals. The will, as understood in the true Christian sense of the term, acts in contradiction to this brutal appetite; hence they alone have a strong will who can, when duty and conscience require it, obey their voice with docility, in spite of all instinctive opposition.

The education of the will, I admit, is a long and painful process. We are taught at a dear rate how to _know_ and _judge_ things; but we must learn at a dearer price how to _will_. The culture of the mind is the least important and the easiest part of our education, while the culture of the will is extremely important and demands much time and labor; yet, through a most culpable negligence, it is just the faculty that receives the least attention and culture. Too many imagine that the training of the will may be done at any time and, what is still more erroneous, that age, experience and events will suffice to do this work. Hence we see every day poor souls entering the scene of life without an educated will, which alone is capable of reacting against the evils and trials from which none in this world can escape. This is the cause of that imbecility which renders the most precious qualities of mind and heart useless; generating inconsistencies and uncertainties which, in the moment of trial, deprive the heart of its energy and the mind of all light, thus leaving the soul open to all the assaults of misfortune.

We are obliged to chronicle a painful truth when we assert that the culture of the will is sadly neglected in education in general, but more especially so in that of women. There are even some so blind as to think that a strong will in woman is a dangerous quality, alleging, as a proof of their assertion, the puerile reason, that since woman was made to obey she should find in another's will the rule of her actions. But, we ask, if woman can have no will of her own, how can she exercise the virtue of obedience, since that virtue consists in bending the will to duty? And since, in her sphere, she is constantly called on to practice obedience it is just the reason why she should have a strong will.

Now if from a tender age she has not given due attention to this precious faculty of her soul; if she has contracted the fatal habit of acting without a purpose, without reflecting, through caprice, following by a blind instinct the allurements that flatter the senses and imagination; if she has not learned to conquer herself, to put duty before pleasure, and the voice of conscience above that of the passions and honor; how will she be able to live with a husband capricious perhaps in his desires and stubborn in his will? How will she be able to confront his exactions or cope with his rage? How will she bear with the faults of her servants and of those with whom she may be obliged to live? How will she, in her warnings and reproaches be able to blend in a just proportion mildness and firmness, to obtain the salutary effects which she desires?

The path of life is not strewn with flowers; all is not joy and happiness here below. Woman is destined, as well as man, to meet with days of sorrow and bitterness, when a firm, patient will must be her only port of safety. To woman patience is, perhaps of all virtues, the most necessary to sustain her in mental anxieties and various other sufferings that are inevitable; and, since patience is a fruit of the will, it follows that a morbid will cannot produce an enduring patience, the deficiency of which must render her life almost intolerable.

He that sails with the current and a favorable wind need not ply his oars; but when there is question of going in the contrary direction, what was at first a great advantage becomes now a double disadvantage, and he can succeed only by strenuous efforts.

During the days of youthful glee you glide gaily down the river of life, going with the current, favored by the breeze of hope, charmed by varied and softly-changing scenes. But this time will soon have an end: sorrow will embitter your joys ere the frost of age shall have cooled the blood or chilled the imagination; very soon, in a few years, perhaps, it will knock at the door of your soul; and you will be obliged to give this inopportune visitor admittance, to remain with you, perhaps, for the rest of your life. Among the young ladies of your acquaintance are there not some who are unhappy? And can you, without a voluntary illusion, convince yourself that youth is a preservative against misfortune? Are you prepared to ward off the intruder? If it wounds you how will you endure the pain? It is imprudent to delay the acquisition of a particular branch of learning until its practical use becomes necessary; and since it is while we are hale and hearty that we should learn to die well, so it is while prosperity smiles on us that we should learn to bear adversity. Learn now, while young, to support all the vicissitudes of life; make timely provision, not only against adversity, but also against prosperity, which for many is the more dangerous of the two.

Prepare to meet not only those who will try your patience by their unjust or troublesome doings, but also those whose affection officiousness, and flattery, will perhaps exact from you a greater exercise of virtue. Be on your guard, not only against others, but also against yourself. Learn to bear with yourself, to suffer with courage the inconstancy of your own humor, the nights of your imagination, the impetuosity of your character, the violent and inordinate movements of your heart. Accustom your will to wield the scepter and resolutely to govern the passions, which are most powerful auxiliaries for good or for evil,--for good when under the complete control of the will, for evil when they are emancipated from its sway, for then they become the vultures of life, and a torment of the soul.

Never lose sight of the fact that you require a stronger will to obey than to command, and that your condition, far from rendering your will less necessary, shows, on the contrary, that it is indispensable to you; unless, by indorsing that unjust and outrageous judgment by which the world seeks to degrade the dignity of woman, you force upon yourself the conviction that her will should count for nothing either at home or abroad,--that she is destined to be blindly led by the caprices of others; unless you confound obedience with servitude, and authorize the prejudices of those who pretend that woman should have neither thought nor will of her own, but that another is charged with thinking and willing for her, thus exonerating her from all responsibility.

If this be your conviction, I ask: "Why do you read this book? Close it, it is not written for you; because from the first page to the last it constantly discloses to your view all the titles of your glory and the grandeur of your dignity. Close your eyes to the light of truth, shackle the will's liberty lest you may see and feel the shame and humiliation of your sad condition; and, like a thing inert, await in dumb silence until some trafficker may come and calculate how much he will gain in fortune and pleasure by purchasing you!" Behold the deplorable condition to which the pagan theories of the world reduce woman! behold the degree of abjection to which she herself descends when, losing sight of the light of faith, which exposes the true nature of things, she suffers herself to be deceived by the vain systems of a world worthy of God's anathemas, and governed by the spirit of deception.

No, woman has not been created to be a slave; God has neither destined nor consigned to such a humiliating state that half of humanity from which He has chosen His mother, and which has been favored with a holy reflection of the glory of Mary. God required a positive act of woman's will in her co-operation in the work of our redemption,--and to obtain it He did not hesitate to choose as His ambassador, one of the brightest of His archangels. Judge from this the respect and importance due to woman's will. Moreover, it is a significant truth, sustained by a long experience, that the salvation of a family, of a father, a brother, a son, a husband, is secured in a great measure by the care and prayers, the firm and wise, yet mild and prudent conduct of a Christian woman, deeply penetrated with the profound sentiment of her dignity and the true importance of her duties,--all of which depend upon a firm and patient will.

CHAPTER X.

THE IMAGINATION.

The imagination, that active agent of the senses, is the bee which, in its continual excursions, gathers from the flower-cups the sweet scented dust from which, by due process, it forms the wax that gives us light and the honey that nourishes us. Your soul is like a bee-hive, full of activity and life. The external world is like a flower-garden, in which each flower has its peculiar color, perfume and brightness. Your imagination is the working bee of this hive, which resounds with the humming of the senses. The will governs and directs all with perfect harmony, when peaceful order reigns in all its workings. But the moment that the will fails to discharge the duties of its office, the imagination and the senses, like bees deprived of their queen, wander hither and thither without any determined purpose, and the hive is abandoned to inaction or disorder.

It is of paramount importance to you to have a clear knowledge of the nature, end and functions of all the faculties of your soul; so that you may keep them within the province that God has allotted to them, and that no disorder may arise from the attempted encroachments of some upon others. This point becomes one of grave importance when there is question of _the imagination_, because it is the most rash, most ambitious, most violent and at the same time, the most seductive, of all the faculties.

Holding an intermediate place between the soul and the senses, it is the most accessible to the charms of the external world, and participates in the inconstant and tumultuous movements of our own sensibility. Confined to its own sphere of action, it is a precious auxiliary, which often facilitates the perception of the truth, and the accomplishment of good, by presenting them to the mind and heart under colors that render them amiable and attractive. When properly employed, it is an invaluable gift of God, who has given it to us to aid the infirmity of our nature, by rendering less painful the efforts that we are so often obliged to make in order to triumph over our bad inclinations. But when we fail to make a proper use of it, it then becomes for us a source of danger, and a great obstacle to our advancement towards perfection.

Placed between the will and the senses, it should neither be controlled by the latter nor emancipated from the sway of the former. The faithful observance of this condition can alone insure us all the advantages we may hope to derive from it. Should it prove to be a frequent cause of mischief to us it is because we let it act independently of the will's control--in which case it is sure to become the slave of the senses. Separated from the intelligence, from which it receives light, and from the will, which points out its course of action, the imagination is a blind instinct, precipitous in its movements, impetuous and inconstant in its flights, violent and capricious in its pursuits. It is in constant agitation and torment,


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