A “finished education” is an illusion or else a lasting disappointment; the very word implies a condition of mind which is opposed to any further development, a condition of self-satisfaction. What then shall we call a well-educated girl, whom we consider ready for the opportunities and responsibilities of her new life? An equal degree of fitness cannot be expected from all, the difference between those who have ten talents and those who have only two will always be felt. Those who have less will be well educated if they have acquired spirit enough not to be discontented or disheartened at feeling that their resources are small; if we have been able to inspire them with hope and plodding patience it will be a great thing, for this unconquerable spirit of perseverance does not fail in the end, it attains to something worthy of all honour, it gives us people of trust whose character is equal to their responsibilities, and that is no little thing in any position of life; and, if to this steadiness of will is added a contented mind, it will always be superior to its circumstances and will not cease to develop in the line of its best qualities.
It is not these who disappoint—in fact they often give more than was expected of them. It is those of great promise who are more often disappointing in failing to realize what they might do with their richer endowments; they fail in strength of will.
Now if we want a girl to grow to the best that a woman ought to be it is in two things that we must establish her fundamentally—quiet of mind and firmness of will. Quiet of mind equally removed from stagnation and from excitement. In stagnation her mind is open to the seven evil spirits who came into the house that was empty and swept; under excitement it is carried to extremes in any direction which occupies its attention at the time. The best minds of women are quiet, intuitive, and full of intellectual sympathies. They are not in general made for initiation and creation, but initiation and creation lean upon them for understanding and support. And their support must be moral as well as mental, for this they need firmness of will. Support cannot be given to others without an inward support which does not fail towards itself in critical moments. The great victories of women have been won by this inward support, this firmness and perseverance of will based upon faith. The will of a woman is strong, not in the measure of what it manifests without, as of what it reserves within, that is to say in the moderation of its own impulsiveness and emotional tendency, in the self-discipline of perseverance, the subordination of personal interest to the good of whatever depends upon it for support. It is great in self-devotion, and in this is found its only lasting independence.