While your principal personal object and personal gratification in your studies is to be derived from the gradual improvement of your mind and tastes, this gradual improvement will be often so imperceptible that you will need support and cheering during many weeks and months of apparently profitless mental application. Such support you may provide for yourself in the daily satisfaction resulting from having fulfilled a certain task, from having obeyed a law, though only a self-imposed one. Men, in their studies, have almost always that near and immediate object which I recommend to you to create for yourself. For them, as well as for you, the distant future of attained mental eminence and excellence is indeed the principal object. They, however, have it in their power to cheat the toil and cheer the way by many intermediate steps, which serve both as landmarks in their course and objects of interest within their immediate reach. They can almost always have some special object in view, as the result and reward of the studies of each month, or quarter, or year. They read for prizes, scholarships, fellowships, &c.; and these rewards, tangibly and actually within their reach, excite their energies and quicken their exertions.
For women there is nothing of the kind; it is therefore a useful exercise of her ingenuity to invent some substitute, however inferior to the original. For this purpose, I have never found any thing so effectual as a self-imposed system of study,—the stricter the better. It is not desirable, however, that this system should be one of very constant employment; the strictness of which I spoke only refers to its regularity. As the great object is that you should break through your rules as seldom as possible, it would be better to fix the number of your hours of occupation rather below, certainly not above, your average habits. The time that may be to spare on days in which you meet with no interruption from visitors may also be systematically disposed of: you may always have some book in hand which will be ready to fill up any unoccupied moments, without, even on these occasions, wasting your time in deliberating as to what your next employment shall be.