Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/233

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219
DEVELOPMENT OF OUR YOUNG WOMEN.

ness of manner, a shade more of dignity, perhaps, replaces the thoughtless buoyancy of unknowing youth; but the fine edges of inherent modesty are never dulled by scientific study pursued in the interest of bettering humanity.

A broad knowledge of the temptation to break the seventh commandment, surrounding our youth—a knowledge of the awful mental and physical suffering induced even in childhood by the violation of this commandment—not only places our young women in a position to be of the greatest practical aid to their brothers, but also gives them a sympathetic approach to that broad charity which Christ himself showed to the woman taken in adultery—that sad, sweet story which has come down to us through the centuries, bringing comfort to the hopeless and fallen, stimulating the compassion of the fortunate and pitiless. How many of us, I wonder, after being touched by the "sweet reasonableness" of this lesson, in actuality say to the contrite: "Neither do I condemn thee; go and sin no more "!

Ultra-innocence condemns too severely or condones too readily. It is incapable of inquiring into the general causes which produce from time to time certain disastrous individual effects. As a case in point, I know of a young woman brought up in the conventional manner in utter ignorance of the magnitude and nearness of this form of sin. Left, later, with the responsibility of bringing up two fatherless boys, shrinking from touching on these matters, she relied upon the refinements of home to be a sufficient protection against wrong living. In her happy confidence she said, "I would rather cut my throat than speak to my boys of these matters, or show them that I could think them untrustworthy here." I saw her later, when those boys, sent early into the world, unfortified as to its temptations, had fallen into sins whose shame must follow them all the rest of their days. Had she known of the over-prominence of this sin, would she not have worked as well as trusted?

On the other hand, I know well a young girl left motherless, with the care of three younger brothers. Instead of dexterously parrying the questions natural to young children, she took them to her heart, unfolding to them gradually the mysteries of their being, watching carefully over their reading and associations, meeting their perplexities at every point, and warning them of the strain of temptation to which all men must be sooner or later exposed; as they grew older, enlisting their sympathies in the work of helping others, getting them to meet her naturally on her own high plane, and finally gaining their hearty co-operation in this work. Do you think she would have been able to do this had she in her earlier days, before this responsibility came to her, "dwelt outside the current in which such subjects are spoken