It is unnatural for a woman to live without the daily companionship of man. The superior single woman must make tenfold the effort of the inferior wife, to maintain her balance into maturity, because of her enforced solitude. As the wife-mother grows older she is kept in touch with youth, and with the world, while the opportunities for close companionship with the young lessen as a single woman passes forty, unless she makes herself especially adaptable, agreeable, and sympathetic.
And this is what I want you to do. At twenty-four it is none too soon to begin planning for a charming maturity.
If you are determined upon a life of celibacy, determine also to be the most wholesome, and normal, and all around liberal, womanly spinster the world has ever seen.
Peace and happiness to you in your chosen lot.
To Mrs. Charles Gordon
Concerning Her Sister and Her Children
No, my dear Edna, I do not think it strange that you should seek advice on this subject from a woman who has no living children.
It seems to me no one is fitted to give such unbiased counsel regarding the training of children as the woman of observation, sympathy, and feeling, who has none of her own.
Had I offspring, I would be influenced by my own successes, and prejudiced by my own failures, and unable to put myself in your place, as I now do.
A mother rarely observes other people’s children, save to compare them unfavourably with her own. I regret to say that motherhood with the average woman seems to be a narrowing experience, and renders her less capable of taking a large, unselfish view of humanity.
The soldier in the thick of battle is able to tell only of what he personally experienced and saw, just in the spot where he was engaged in action.
The general who sits outside the fray and watches the contest can form a much clearer idea of where the mistakes occurred, and where the greatest skill was displayed.
I am that general, my dear friend, standing outside the field of motherhood, and viewing the efforts of my battling sisters to rear desirable men and women. And I am glad you have appealed to me while your two children are yet babies to give you counsel, for I can tell you where thousands have failed.
And I thank you and your husband for reposing so much confidence in my ideas.
I think, perhaps, we had better speak of the postscript of your letter first. You ask my opinion regarding the chaperon for your sixteen-year-old sister, who is going abroad to study for a period of years. Mrs. Walton will take her and keep her in her home in Paris, and Miss Brown also stands ready to make her one of three young girls she desires to chaperon and guide through a foreign course of study in France and Germany.
You like the idea of having your sister in a home without the association of other American girls, until she perfects herself in French, but you are worried about Mrs. Walton’s being a divorced woman. Miss Brown, the spotless spinster, seems the safer guide to your friends, you tell me.