Friday, November 14, 2008

Between the School Room and the Altar, by Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919)

Alresco Afternoon by Charles Zhan

I am normally not a very outwardly emotionally expressive person, nor am I "verbally religious." However, when my daughter began reading this essay from an 1890 edition of "The Ladies Home Journal," I was quite enthusiastic. Many daughters who are at home will agree with this piece, and many mothers will say "I could have written that, myself." Ella Wheeler Wilcox was the author of many inspirational poems, and this article is the most inspirational of all. Feminist may claim her as a champion of their cause, but here, she urges young women to aim for a pure character and success in the home. Try reading it aloud and seeing the effect it has on the hearers. This will be added to the "Theme Article" section on the side of this blog.


Springtime by Charles Zhan

"Often the most memorable time in the life of a woman is that period which lies between the schoolroom and the altar. It is the time toward which every school girl looks with eagerness, and to which many a mature woman casts a backward glance of regret. It is the hope-land of youth, the memory-land of age...

"When the girl enters the world after her education is "finished," she does not always find it what she expected. The school room is one thing, the world another.

"She may have been popular with her teachers because she was a diligent scholar, and carried off the honors of the school. But she finds that book-knowledge does not make her popular or successful socially.

"Some of the most intellectual people I have known have been among the most disagreeable. A woman whose intellect is aggressive, who parades her knowledge before those of inferior intellect or education, is an object to be dreaded.

"Mere learning in a woman is never attractive. It is, on the contrary, offensive, unless coupled with feminine graces. School learning should sink into the character and deportment, and only exhibit itself as the perfume of a flower is exhibited--in a subtle, nameless and unobtrusive manner.

"A woman's knowledge of grammar should not maker her talk like an orator in daily life--it should simply make her conversation gracious and agreeable.

"Mathematics should render her mind clear, and her judgements true; her geographical studies should teach her that the world is too small for falseness to find a hiding place; and history should impress upon her that life is too short for unworthy ambitions.

Rose Bay Cottage by Charles Zhan


"The time between the schoolroom and the altar should be not a mere harvest time of pleasure, but a sowing time for all the seeds of kindness and benevolence which alone can make her a successful wife and mother.

"The young lady who comes out of school realizing what an expense her education has been to her parents, and resolves to repay them in sacrificing some pleasures for their sake, and strives by self-denial and cheerfulness to lighten their burdens; that young lady is seldom found later in life in the divorce courts, a martyr to marital incapability.

"The good and thoughtful daughter makes the good and thoughtful wife, as a rule; she does not expect the man she marries to be a god and her slave in one; she has the patience and tact to cultivate in him the qualities she desires, and to keep his love and respect.

"I never see a petted, pampered girl who is yielded to in every whim by servants and parents, that I do not sigh with pity for the man who will one day be her husband.

"It is the worshipped daughter who has been taught that her whims and wishes are supreme in a household, who makes marriage a failure all her life. She has had her way in things great and small, and when she desired dresses, pleasures or journeys which were beyond the family purse, she carried the day with tears or sulks, or posing as a martyr.

"The parents sacrificed, and suffered for her sake, hoping to finally see her well married. They carefully hide her faults from her suitors who seek her hand, and she is ever ready with smiles and allurements to win the hearts of men, and the average man is as blind to the faults of a pretty girl as a newly-hatched bird is blind to the worms upon the trees about him. He thinks her little pettish ways are mere girlish moods; but when she becomes his wife, and reveals her selfish and cruel nature, he is grieved and hurt to think fate has been so unkind to him.

"I once heard a man complain of the stubborn selfishness of his wife in small, daily matters, which completely ruined his home life. I asked him if he had not caused this trait to develop through some carelessness on his won part. "Oh, no," he said, "I knew her from her early girlhood, and she was always terribly selfish with her parents; her will ruled father and mother in all things, and she always had her way in everything."

"Then, you were the blindest of men to marry her," I said, "for while I have known one or two selfish sons to be trained into fairly good husbands by excellent wives, I never knew a selfish and thoughtless daughter to make a good wife."

"Every girl dreams of the time when she will become a loved wife; but how can she expect to be loved if she is not lovable? Every hour of the time between the school room and the altar ought to be used by her in cultivating a spirit of usefulness, kindness and devotion to relatives and friends, which will enable her to display that constant self-sacrifice, and thoughtfulness which marriage demands daily of both husband and wife.

"Fannie Edgar Thomas, a gifted writer and a bright, earnest young lady, made a remark to me the other day which I thought was full of truth. I feel that I ought to give her name and credit for the words, because the open up a world of meaning to every thoughtful young woman. She said: "While I meet many charming and delightful women, I am constantly surprised that women are not grander.

" It seems to me the consciousness that they are to be the mothers of coming generations would fill them with such awe and reverence that all frivolity and selfishness would be frightened out of them."

"Yes, indeed! If our girls would but realize that their daily thoughts, impulses and habits are forming their characters as certainly as the strokes of the sculptor's chisel for a statue, and that those very characteristics are to be repeated and amplified in their children and grandchildren, how noble they would become."

13 comments:

Jill said...

I loved the quote by Fannie Edgar Thomas! It was convicting to me! Thanks so much.

Jill F.

Abounding Treasures said...

A very thought provoking quote from Ella Wilcox Wheeler and the short quote by Fannie Edgar Thomas is SO TRUE ~~~ much needed by dear young Christian girls and women who are often strongly influenced by today's society and its teachings!

Blessings!

Marqueta said...

Dear Lady Lydia,

I love Ella Wheeler Wilcox, and this piece is just so exceptional! This dear lady's poems helped me through the sad time recently of having my new-born daughter die. Mrs. Wilcox knew suffering, but was always steadfast in her faith.

Thank you so much for sharing this.

Love,

Marqueta

Ace said...

"and that those very characteristics are to be repeated and amplified in their children and grandchildren, how noble they would become."

I have seen the destruction of this very law in my own family. And for one who has, through the strenght and power of the Name of Jesus, wrested away the steering wheel from the devil and is trying to chart a new course, this very principal is all that keeps me going.

I have just seen this week, that the Son, is far worse than the Father and the Grandson more than that. How sad, how horrible. I feel for those family members and keep them before me in prayer and as a warning.

Lady Lydia, this was just what I needed to read. GREAT post. I love when you pull this type of writting from yesteryear with what we need today. This is what is so missing, there are so few woman saying "Yes, it's hard, but it is worth it! Do it and you won't regret laying down your life for this. Stand on my shoulders. I will tell you what God has done for me to encourage you."

We need this! We, first generation homemakers and Mothers, we SO need to hear this!

Many Blessings :)
Ace

Joy of Frugal Living said...

This is a great article. Thank you for sharing it.

Jennifer

Anonymous said...

Wow, this is fantastic! Very inspirational, as was the last post. I'm feeling pretty enthusiastic myself. Thank you.

-Christine from Arizona

Anonymous said...

Dearest Marqueta,

My heart goes out to you, dear sister - I extend a loving embrace to you in the dark valley of your grief and loss. It is my fervent prayer that God makes His presence known to you in a truly tangible way that reaches through your mourneing and gives you strength. Footsteps, dear heart, one painful tear-blurred step at a time........He will bear you in His arms and bring you through; Our Heavenly Father holds you in the hollow of His hand from whence none can snatch you.

May you be utterly and abundantly blessed,

Mrs. E.,
Australia.

Anonymous said...

We have a saying in our family, that how you treat your parents is how your children will treat you one day.

~ Ann

Mrs. Anna T said...

How beautiful, truthful and inspirational. I hope many young ladies who are reading this will be convicted to cultivate a gentle, quiet, giving spirit that will one day make them excellent wives. And of course, there's always room for improvement for wives as well.

Jessica said...

Thank you so much for sharing this! Even today as much as I've changed I still needed this. I just wish that I would have heard this after my high school years and before getting married. I made a lot of wrong choices during that time and although they led me to where I am, I still wish that I would have been more conscious about what I was doing and what I really wanted. Thanks again!

Lady B said...

What can i say? I am so blessed, being exposed to such insights before i walk the road of wife and mother and grandmother...Am so grateful for these inspiring posts. Am learning so much, that i wouldnt know...
Blessings. Lady Barbra

Marcia Wilwerding said...

"Some of the most intellectual people I have known have been among the most disagreeable. A woman whose intellect is aggressive, who parades her knowledge before those of inferior intellect or education, is an object to be dreaded."

This quote just jumped out at me. Have you ever had someone arguing with you say they are "a college-educated woman," as if having a college degree makes their arguments more weighty?

I've had this happen at least twice in my blogging history, and it left me feeling very sorry for the poor soul who feels she must dig out a diploma in order to demand a hearing.

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

It seems like it has always been a danger to feel superior because of education, and yet some of the most brilliant and accomplished people, who have kept their marriages together and had a happy home life, are not necessarily educated formally. The Bible warns that Knowledge puffs up, and many of the Proverbs, though saying knowledge is important, stress the use of understanding and wisdom in association with it.

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