Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 17.djvu/846

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made a scrap-bag into which are dropped the dabs of this and that which custom has decreed a young woman should know, and which she and her friends regard very much in the same light as the bows and feathers on her pretty bonnet.

Between the ages of twelve and twenty, the time of all others when her body and its healthful development ought to be carefully looked after, a girl ordinarily receives all the intellectual training she ever has. To do credit to the school and satisfy the mistaken pride of her friends, she is kept in a perpetual hurry, memorizing an incredible number of pages per day. Her chief recreation is a sedate walk, in which dress and behavior have to be considered more than the toning up of her flabby muscles and the oxygenizing of her thin blood. Her chief pleasures are evening entertainments, where her vanity is stimulated to the utmost, and late hours, unhygienic dress, and unwholesome food tax her vitality.

Society emphasizes the education of the boarding-school. To appear well is its sole demand upon young women. Earnestness, an interest in the projects which their founders believe will regenerate the world, all the ebullitions of force characterestic of the young mind that thinks, even an enthusiasm for study, are "bad form" for a young lady in society, and make her suspected of being, at least, "queer." Of course, I speak of ordinary society. There are cultivated congeries in every large city in which more is expected of a girl than mere prettiness. A bright girl who has finished her school-life scarcely knows what to do with herself. Her education was not a preparation for any special work, and, unless she was very fortunate, it did not lay the foundation of proper mental habits. The intellectual in her has been roused, but she has not been taught how to direct it. Some way this force will expend itself: if it can not find a legitimate outlet, it will stimulate the emotions, and find a disastrous activity in them, and too often the "sweet girl-graduate" becomes a sentimental creature, a prey of whims and caprices, capable of an intense but one-sided energy when her enthusiasm is roused, but incapable of any sustained, self-directed effort.

Women rarely find in marriage greater incentives to a real intellectual activity than they find in the boarding-school or in society. Whether the man whose name she takes will be as attractive in middle life as in his youth—whether she will be proud and glad that he is the father of her children—are matters about which the young girl is not taught to think. Domestic economy, as now carried on, is burdensome and full of distasteful and humdrum duties. Having no special aptitudes, not having enough control of her mind to elect to do anything, or to persist in it if she so elect, not knowing how to make the most of what is open to her, unhappiness, real or imaginary, preys upon the average woman to an extent not to be guessed at by a person whose mind is employed.