When she had attained the age of fourteen, her father commenced a regular course of instruction for his child, by reading aloud, while she was employed in drawing, needlework, &c. History was selected, that being the study which now most interested her, and the first work chosen was Josephus.
It was while spending a short time at Tavistock, in 1830, that the beauty of the surrounding scenery led her to express her thoughts in verse. Several small pieces soon followed her first essay, and she became extremely fond of this new exercise and enjoyment of her opening powers, yet her mind was so well regulated, that she never permitted herself to indulge in original composition until her duties, and her studies, were all performed.
Grace Aguilar was extremely fond of music; she had learned the piano from infancy, and in 1831 commenced the harp. She sang pleasingly, preferring English songs, and invariably selecting them for the beauty or sentiment of the words; she was also passionately fond of dancing, and her cheerful lively manners in the society of her young friends, would scarcely have led any to imagine how deeply she felt and pondered upon the serious and solemn subjects which afterwards formed the labor of her life. She seemed to enjoy all, to enter into all, but a keen observer would detect the hold that sacred and holy principle ever exercised over her lightest act, and gayest hour. A sense of duty was apparent in the merest trifle, and her following out of the divine command of obedience to parents, was only equalled by the unbounded affection she felt for them. A wish was once expressed by her mother that she should not waltz, and no solicitation could afterwards tempt her. Her mother also required her to read sermons, and study religion and the Bible regularly; this was readily submitted to, first as a task, but afterwards with much delight; for evidence of which we cannot do better than quote her own words in one of her religious works.
“This formed into a habit, and persevered in for a life, would in time, and without labor or weariness, give the comfort and the knowledge that we seek; each year it would become lighter, and more blest, each year we should discover something we knew not before, and in the valley of the shadow of death, feel to our heart’s core that the Lord our God is Truth.”—Women of Israel, Vol. II, page 43.
Nor did Grace Aguilar only study religion for her own personal observance and profit. She embraced its principles (the principles of all creeds) in a widely extended and truly liberal sense. She carried her practice of its holy and benevolent precepts into every minutiae of her daily life, doing all the good her limited means would allow, finding time, in the midst of her own studies, and most varied and continual occupations, to work for, and instruct her poor neighbors in the country, and while steadily venerating and adhering to her own faith, neither inquiring nor heeding the religious opinions of the needy whom she succored or consoled. To be permitted to help and comfort, she considered a privilege and a pleasure; she left the rest to God; and thus bestowing and receiving blessings and smiles from all who had the opportunity of knowing her, her young life flowed on, in an almost uninterrupted stream of enjoyment, until she had completed her nineteenth year.