But few boys of twenty-three are capable of knowing what they want in a life companion. Ten years from now your ideal will have changed.
You are in love with love, life, and all womankind, my dear boy, not with me, your friend.
Put away all such ideas, and settle down to hard study and serious ambitions, and seal this letter of yours, which I am returning with my reply, and lay it carefully away in some safe place. Mark it to be destroyed unopened in case of your death. But if you live, I want you to open, re-read and burn it on the evening before your marriage to some lovely girl, who is probably rolling a hoop to-day; and if I am living, I want you to write and thank me for what I have said to you here. I hardly expect you will feel like doing it now, but I can wait.
Do not write me again until that time, and when we meet, be my good sensible friend—one I can introduce to my husband, for only such friends do I care to know.
To Miss Winifred Clayborne
At Vassar College
My dear niece:—It was a pleasure to receive so long a letter from you after almost two years of silence. It hardly seems possible that you are eighteen years old. To have graduated from high school with such honours that you are able to enter Vassar at so early an age is much to your credit.
I indulged in a good-natured laugh over your request for my advice regarding a college course. You say, “I remember that I once heard you state that you did not believe in higher education for women, and, therefore, I am anxious to have your opinion of this undertaking of mine.”
Now of course, my dear child, what you wish me to say is, that I am charmed with your resolution to graduate from Vassar. You have entered the college fully determined to take a complete course, and you surely would not like a discouraging or disapproving letter from your auntie.
“Please give me your opinion of my course of action” always means, “Please approve of what I am doing.”
Well I do approve. I always approve when a human being is carrying out a determination, even if I am confident it is the wrong determination.
The really useful knowledge of life must come through strong convictions. Strong convictions are usually obtained only on the pathway of personal experience.
To argue a man out of a certain course of action rarely argues away his own beliefs and desires in the matter. We may save him some bitter experience in the contemplated project, but he is almost certain to find that same bitter experience later, because he has been coerced, not enlightened.
Had he gained his knowledge in the first instance, he would have escaped the later disaster.
A college education does not seem to me the most desirable thing for a woman, unless she intends to enter into educational pursuits as a means of livelihood. I understand it is your intention to become a teacher, and, therefore, you are wise to prepare yourself by a thorough education. Be the very best, in whatever line of employment you enter.