I was reading in a book called Portraits and Principles, an anthology of essays by successful people and how they got that way, when I read this one addressed to young women. I have one fourteen year old granddaughter, and others growing up quickly, that I want to pass this on to.
When I finished it I thought there may be others that would like it for the same purpose.
The following piece is a paraphrase from an essay titled-
The Influence of Young Women by Lady Henry Somerset – She was the President of a British women’s Temperance union in the late 1800s.
I might rename it The Power and Influence of Young Women because as I read it I became aware of power women have. She begins with what seems as a unrelated issue, stating that mankind can develop nature but not improve upon it.
“All the present deliciousness of fruits or flowers was contained in the original seeds out of which they were developed. Men have added nothing to nature.”
Her point being that fruits and flowers are and can be improved upon, and then she likens this to the family of man, and that through the home it can be improved as well. “ Without one’s family, what were all else of life?
Without them would life be worth the living? How could there be love, and hope and ambition, without the family? There might be lust of appetite, or gaining things, of conquest, for mere existence, but how could holy love exist without the family relation? And love is life. In the Bible the words are almost interchangeable in meaning.”
She makes this general statement, although made over a hundred years ago I think it is as true today as then. “Now men are ruled by their appetites, and women by their affections, until education has taught them the proper uses of both.”
Now she goes on and this is where it gets interesting to me; she begins to encourage young women on how to pick out a man and in doing so exert her power over all of society.
“The young women of today will be the matrons of tomorrow, and while they never can make over the young men whom their mothers have made years ago,
(She mentions earlier that as a rule the first seven years of life determine the future of the child and so of the man.) they can almost wholly determine the character of the next generation, by wisely using their influence with the present one. What kind of associates, what kind of companions, will you choose among men? Fate will not fix it for you, but you must determine it.
There are serious vices among men, foul blots on humanity that impair its energies, that bar all upward progress of the race, that are steadily dragging it downward to that of a beast and actions of the devil – vices that breed crimes, natural and unnatural, preternatural ( unlike ordinary natural occurrences ), by which and from which woman has been and is the silent, and greatest sufferer.
Shall these be continued? On its answer hangs the destiny of the ages. Shall the vice of the father be fastened on your innocent child through you?
That is the problem you are to solve.
Over against the world’s misery stand the young women of the day with the power not merely to lessen it but to blot it out. Will they do it? Do you ask how?
By resolutely refusing to be the medium for its perpetuation.
Demand purity of thought, purity of purpose, purity of deed that is unyielding, with the young men with whom you accompany.
How long would the vice of drink, the use of drugs, the delirium of gambling, the leper-seeking of lust with all of its perversions, dwell in the world, if the young women in it were to refuse to accompany any young man tainted by them?
Not a generation.”
She goes on to give countless example of how young women take as friends for themselves young men who have habits that inevitably end up hurting themselves, because the young man is cute or clever, rich or has position.
The main point of the essay is to point out the power young women have.
They can by right choices for themselves, not only help themselves, but, when married and if children come, bless the children by their choice, and all of society.