Lucy H.M. Soulsby.

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case of 'No Eyes.' You do not know an interesting piece of architecture
when you see it, you would not know what pictures to look for, you would
not know the history of the places you went to, and, in short, you would
miss nine-tenths of the best points, for want of knowing they were there."

"Yes; I might read up countries, but it is so unlikely that I should ever
see them, that it does not seem much use to read up for nothing."

"Well, supposing that you did not go, but that you had read books on
Italian Art, and made out a list of the pictures you wanted to see at each
great town - Florence, Venice, Rome, Siena - and knew about each painter,
his history, his style, and photographs of his works, and copied out under
each picture what good critics had said of it, or at least put a reference
to the book where it was mentioned (_e.g._ Kingsley's description of
Bellini's Doge; Browning on Fra Lippo Lippi's Coronation of the Virgin;
Ruskin's best descriptions); and if you looked out all the famous men of
each town, and knew their history, and what parts of the town were sacred
to them; if you studied the buildings of each town, looked up its
architecture, and tried to draw it from photographs and illustrations, and
then hunted out all the poetry and novels about each place, and drew out a
sketch of its history, marking where the local history of the town
dovetailed into larger European interests, and specially where it touched
England - I think, after this, you would enjoy meeting any one from Italy
almost as much as if you had been there, and you would not feel you had
read up for nothing. I should take a fresh country every year, and make
believe that you were going to it next summer, and that you were getting
ready to be 'Eyes,' and not 'No Eyes,' while there. You would have got the
spirit of the country by this, far more than ninety-nine out of a hundred
of those who go to it in the flesh. You are leaving school at eighteen,
and by the time you are five and twenty, _i.e._ before you are fully grown
up, you might have thus visited Italy, France, Germany, Spain, America,
India, which would make you a fairly cultivated person."

"But it is so hard to get books; I can read Ruskin while I am with you,
and when I am with Uncle Charles I could find some of the others I should
want, but I can't get hold of a course of reading at home."

"But if you have such a large peg as Italy on which to hang your reading,
you can always find something which bears on it - you can borrow an odd
book here and there, or pick up bits in a stray magazine; several of the
books you would want are cheap to buy, and, if you keep a list of them,
you will be surprised to find from what odd quarters they turn up. People
have a way of saying, 'Oh, do recommend me a book,' as if all subjects
were equally interesting, or rather uninteresting, and they borrow the
first that comes, reading it as a duty, quite regardless of the fact that
it does not belong to anything they have read before, or will read after;
but if they had made up their mind on a subject, the lending friend would
take far more interest, and probably hunt up something that bore on the
subject, while the reader would be more likely to get good."

"But if I begin Ruskin here, and then go home, where I may perhaps find an
Italian history, and then go for another visit and find something else, it
will all be so disjointed."

"Yes, it would be nicer if you could go on with art or architecture; but
your reading will not be so desultory as to be useless, if it is all
strung on the one thread of Italy, and then you can group it, as you go
along, in a commonplace book. I should take a large one, and divide it
among the towns I wanted to see, and then subdivide the pages given to,
_e.g._ Florence, under the heads of art, history, famous men,
architecture, poetry, novels, and, as I read anything on these subjects, I
should jot down the substance of it under the right heading, or if it was
a poem, just give the title and one or two of the best lines. And you
could keep up your French and German at the same time - suppose you read
_Corinne_ and the _Improvisator_, they would both help to keep you in an
Italian atmosphere."

"Yes, I could keep up my reading, but how about the grammar?"

"I should recommend you to take a very conversational novel and turn a
page of it into both French and German every week; this would keep up all
the rules of grammar, and, though you might make mistakes, you would gain
fluency in expressing yourself, which is much more needed than grammatical
accuracy if you go abroad, for a course of lessons will set you right
about the grammar at any time, but would not make you talk, if you had
allowed yourself to get tongue-tied by not practising translation from
English into French; and I should advise you to translate very freely, and
use the dictionary as little as possible; if you cannot remember the exact
rendering, twist the sentence and paraphrase it, till you can manage it,
simply to learn to express your thoughts easily. I should say an hour a
week of this would keep up both French and German."

"But you have said nothing of English History and Literature."

"I should be inclined to drop English History for the first year, because
you know so much more of that than of Foreign and Ancient History, but if
you like it I should take some one prominent reign - Elizabeth or Charles
I., or Anne or George III., and get to know all the chief people, read
their memoirs, and what they themselves wrote, so as to feel among friends
whenever you hear a name of that period mentioned - and read all essays,
etc. that you can find upon it. To keep your mind generally open, I should
make a chart of contemporary history and another of literature, taking one
century a month, and leaving plenty of space for adding things afterwards.
In Literature, I should take one of the Men of Letters every month, or one
of the Foreign Classics, and at the same time read any of the man's own
works that I could. Modern poets and novelists and essayists I should read
at odd times, _specially making it a matter of conscience never to open a
novel before luncheon_! I should read my poets not only promiscuously, as
the fancy took me, but compare their treatment of different subjects;
_e.g._, you might make yourself a private New Year's Eve service, of all
the poems on it you can find - Coleridge, Tennyson, and Elia's prose poem
on the same subject. Or you could make a Shepherd's Calendar for yourself,
and copy out under each month what poets have said about it, and its
flowers and features generally: or a Poet's Garden; collect all the bits
about flowers, and make a 'Poet's Corner' in your garden, admitting no
flower that cannot bring some poetry as its credential. It will make
country life far more enjoyable if you know your poets as Thomas
Holbrook, in 'Cranford,' knew Tennyson."

"I should like all that, Aunt Rachel; but you have not said anything that
sounds like stiff reading yet."

"No; and you ought to have something that will tax all your powers, as
well as this general cultivation, which will be all pleasant. I should
take some really stiff book, on Logic or Political Economy, or Butler's
'Analogy,' and after each morning's work make a careful analysis of the
argument, leaving one side of your MS. book blank, that you may put in
afterwards any illustrations or criticisms of your own, or others, that
may occur to you in the future. I should always keep a stiff book in hand
and treat it so, even if all other regularity and plan in my reading fell
through - it would be a backbone."

"But I shall have so much writing to do if I am to make a commonplace book
on each subject."

"It will make you slower, but much surer. I know a girl who writes a
review of every book she reads, giving extracts, and an abstract of the
argument and her own opinion of it. She finds it most useful, both as
practice in expressing her thoughts and for reference afterwards."

"But it would take so long."

"You would be well repaid, and you would not read any books in your time
for study which were not worth taking trouble with. In reading a book, I
should put a mark to everything that struck me, and at the end of a
chapter should look over the marked bits, and put a second mark to those
parts that seemed specially important, after I had mastered the drift of
the chapter. It would then be easy, when you had finished the book, to
write a review, for you would only look at the doubly marked bits."

"And am I to do no science?"

"I should vary your science with your opportunities, because you have no
strong turn for any one in particular. When you go to town in the winter
for that long visit you should get some cooking lessons, and before you go
you should get the books recommended by the South Kensington Cookery
School, and study the bookwork on the subject. When you go away in the
summer, you should take up geology, or botany, or whatever suits the place
you go to."

"But I shall only have smatterings of things at this rate!"

"Smatterings are very good things in their way, so long as you are not
misled into thinking them more than they are! They are the keys which will
enable you, in the future, to follow up the subject for which you may have
any special opportunities. They also prevent your being quite a dumb note
anywhere, - it is something to be able to listen intelligently! Besides, if
your mind is open on all sides, you will never find any one dull, for you
are almost certain to be able to gain information on some one of the
subjects you are interested in."

"I don't see how I can get all these things in, Aunt Rachel, for I shan't
have much time."

"I think you might manage two hours a day, and I should divide the week
thus: Monday and Friday I should give to Italy or any subject which you
meant to take as the staple of your reading; Tuesday take a science, and
Wednesday English literature; Thursday take a stiff book and half an hour
of French; Saturday take ancient history or mythology and half an hour of
German. I should write an essay every week at odd moments, if I were you,
for you ought to think things out for yourself as well as filling your
mind with other people's thoughts by reading, but you could work out your
essay in your head while walking or waiting for any one. I should also
advise you to make a list of every book you read after leaving school; you
will find it very interesting in after years, especially if you put a
short criticism on each."[2]

"But surely I had better do more than one subject in a day? I should get
tired of reading one book for two hours."

"You might vary your treatment of the subject. For instance, take notes
of the History of Italy for one hour, and look out descriptions of
pictures for another. In literature you could read about your author for
one hour, and read his works for the next. In your science, give half the
time to book-work, and the rest to practical work."

"But would it not be a more thorough change to go to a new subject?"

"So it would, but you may not be able to fit in two hours' reading with
your duty to your neighbour! On any day that you could honestly be only a
half-timer, you are far less likely to get careless, and to despair of
regularity, if you get a bit of your day's subject, than if you have to
leave one of your subjects entirely undone."

Even Aunt Rachel's good advice came to an end at last, as in course of
time did Urith's visit, and also the Midsummer term, after which she left
school with the best possible intentions, and announced them at home with
much dignity. But, far from being allowed to carry on her course of study,
it became a study with her two small brothers to prevent such morbid
fancies from taking effect. They won golden opinions from the servants
those holidays, who said that the young gentlemen had never been so little
trouble before. They suddenly became as full of "resources within
themselves" as Mrs. Elton herself, to the admiration of the whole family,
except of the unfortunate Urith, who might have unravelled the mystery,
since the cultivation of her domestic virtues by startling and unexpected
interruptions of her reading, occupied such of their spare time as was not
devoted to the mental exercise of devising new plans for her discomfiture
on the morrow.

But, happily for Urith, holidays are terminable, and when the boys left
she hoped to do great things. But visitors came to stay in the house,
special friends of her own, with strong theories as to the value of
co-operation in the matter of brushing their hair at night.

Midnight conversations did not conduce to work before breakfast or to much
energy after it. It was, therefore, with very mingled feelings that Urith
welcomed Aunt Rachel, her outside conscience, whose yearly visit was
usually an unmixed pleasure to her.

Having written much about her intentions at first starting, she was not
surprised when her aunt, on the first evening of her visit, settled
herself for a talk, and began -

"How is the reading going on? You were very sensible in saying that you
meant to begin at once on leaving school, so as not to get out of the
habit of work, and as you have now had three months I suppose you have
something to show for it?"

"Well, I thought I should have had, but, you see, the boys wouldn't let

"I don't see why you need have drawn the boys' attention to what you were
doing; but since they left - "

"The house has been full!"

"Yes, my dear, but as you generally do have visitors, your reading will
never flourish at this rate."

"Well, I couldn't neglect them."

"No; but they don't require entertaining before breakfast, do they?"

"No; but I was so sleepy."

"What time did you go to bed?"

"Well, I suppose I ought not to have stayed in Barbara's room, but Alice
had so many stories to tell us of her adventures that I did not leave them
till after twelve o'clock."

"As Alice is by no means tongue-tied in the daytime, her adventures might
have kept, and if you went to bed in proper time, you might get half an
hour before breakfast. But what do you do after breakfast?"

"Oh, then the flowers want doing, and mamma always wants some notes to be
answered, and then it is so fine that we go for a walk, and don't get back
till after luncheon, and then visitors come, and I must be there to talk
to them; and when it gets cool, people come in for tennis, and as to
reading after that, why, one barely gets time to dress for dinner, and in
the evening they like me to play to them, and papa wants the paper read
to him, and you know, Aunt Rachel, you always said home duties ought to
come first, so I don't see when a girl at home is to read!"

"I quite agree with you about home duties, my dear; but, though many
things have changed since my day, home duties must have changed most of
all, if they now include chattering till midnight, and taking a two hours'
walk in the morning, on days when you are likely to get three hours'
tennis in the afternoon, and being obliged to play in the last set, so
that you cannot even go and dress a quarter of an hour too soon! It seems
to me that you might get these home duties done by eleven o'clock, and
then get an hour, or an hour and a half, for steady reading, or, if not so
much as that, still visitors do not come directly after luncheon: in fact,
I noticed that you got through two volumes of that new novel before any
one came. Now, that time would have done equally well for history, and
even when the boys are at home, their suspicions would not be much aroused
if you went to wash your hands for luncheon a quarter of an hour too soon,
and the same in the evening before dinner."

"Yes, Aunt Rachel, it all seems very easy when I talk to you, and I feel
now as if I should carry out all you say, but I know a hundred little
things will come to make it very hard. I wish it were easier to carry out
one's good intentions."

"I do not wish it for you, my dear; you will be worth ten times more if
you have to exert strength of character, than if everything is done for
you; we ought to feel a little insulted if Fortune lets us live on too
easy terms, though I cannot say, after all, that you have very hard ones.
There now! I have given you quite enough advice to start several girls in
life. I will only add this: do not get flurried over your work, or insist
on doing it when time and strength will not permit; and, on the other
hand, do not be self-indulgent!"

"Like as a star
That maketh not haste,
That taketh not rest,
Be each one pursuing
His God-given hest."

[Footnote 2: See "Record of a Year's Reading." 6_d_. Mowbray.]

"Get up, M. le Comte!"

You have all been considering what qualities are most necessary in family
life and what qualities are most to be deprecated - you have, in short,
been considering Dr. Johnson's question as to what makes "a clubbable
person." I find, on comparing your suggestions, that there are
thirty-eight things to avoid in home life (which suggests complexity);
however, each of you was to confine her attention to three virtues and
three failings, so in giving you my own likes and dislikes, I will not
dwell on more than three.

I will not take manifest faults like irritability or selfishness - we all
strive against those, but I would suggest turns of mind that are often not
realized as faults: -

I. - _The Benevolent Despot_ who takes infinite trouble for your help or
pleasure, but insists on your enjoying yourself in _her_ way. (The young
very often do this to the old or to the invalid, quite forgetting that
one's own way loses none of its charm, even in age or illness!)

II. - Then there is the _Peter Grievous_ who cannot stand a word of
reproof; she is aggrieved or huffy or sulky in a minute - she thinks that
she has a delicate sense of justice, and that she does well to be angry;
she feels as if her mother took a curious and selfish enjoyment in finding
fault with her, - whereas the poor mother has to take her courage in both
hands before saying anything calculated to bring on those black looks.

III. - And then there is _The Snail_, always slow, generally late, and
frequently a martyr - she has to be spoken to so often that her case
usually develops into the Peter Grievous disease as well. For if a mother
speaks, let us say, six times - in the daughter's mind it ceases to be
reproof, and becomes Nagging. It never occurs to the daughter that she
sinned six times (or even shall we say eight or ten?); she feels that she
is being nagged at, and may therefore cease to attend, and may enjoy a
grievance into the bargain!

Now, I have slow friends who really suffer from a sense of their failing,
and who realize acutely what they make others suffer; they were not
trained at first to pull themselves together and to collect beforehand any
materials they were likely to want (as you can train yourselves by
settling in properly to do your preparation) - and they did not teach
themselves to start five minutes sooner instead of leaving things to the
last moment. (They think that the consequent family thundercloud is their
sad fate from their being of a slow constitution.) But if you have only
one horse and your neighbour two, and you are to dine at the same house,
it only means that you must order yours earlier. Do not start together and
then bewail your sad fate; nothing condemns you to be late except your own
bad management.

Especially be careful to be up early when you are going to early service
with your mother; it fidgets her to wait - she recalls all your many
previous sins of the same kind - and just when you both want to feel _at
one_, you start off together (rather, I should say, you overtake her),
both feeling very much _at two_. And yet you made an effort to go! and you
feel she ought to be pleased with you - do not spoil it by that fly in the
ointment of being late.

* * * * *

It seems to me that the Benevolent Despot, the Peter Grievous, and the
Martyred Snail, are people to avoid in choosing your family!

Now, the people to choose for your family party are, first, _the Reliable
Person_. I know one person who is a perfect tower of strength, she is full
of common sense: if you give her a commission she is sure to get the right
thing and to do it reasonably; she knows exactly what she paid, and she
tells you! If she undertakes to do a thing it is certain to be done in
good time; she does not wait till the very day the thing is wanted and
then find that it cannot be got.

Now, _you_ often let yourselves do a stupid thing, or a forgetful thing,
and then say, "Oh, I'm so sorry!" and feel as if you had wiped it out. Not
at all! You have lost one chance of growing into a reliable woman. In all
your life you will only have a certain limited number of chances, and
should use every one you have - to be reliable is worth all the genius in
the world for comfort to others, and _you can each win this crown_ if you
care to do so.

One other person I would choose if I were fated to have sisters, would be
the one who purrs when she is pleased. It takes all the colour and air out
of life when people gaze impassively at beautiful things, or hear lovely
things and never seem to have taken them in; or meet kindness and look as
if it was not there. You do not need to gush, but _do_ purr!

And thirdly I want a magnanimous nature; - one that takes slights and
neglects in a large-minded way, and does not believe people meant them
and, if they _did_, does not fret: one who is serene when little things go
wrong, and does not fuss or worry: one who accepts generously as well as
gives generously, and who is keenly alive to people's good points and good
intentions. Little petty motives and small spites and jealousy die away
in the light of a nature like that. It keeps the family atmosphere sweet
and wholesome.

* * * * *

Now, my lessons are generally about the things that can be carried out at
home, or else about the beliefs that underlie them. You know that my
ambition for you is that you should go out into the world and lead the
ordinary small social life, but that you should live it in a great way and
bring great beliefs to bear on it.

This is a special lesson - the last of all to some of you - the last in this
year to all of you.

How long have you been at school, each of you? How many times have we come
together here, and thought over together, point after point, the things
that really matter to us?

Week after week we are reminded by these talks to pull ourselves together,
first in one way, then in another, and I do believe we have all tried.

Have the suggestions _I_ made and the Resolutions _we_ made, soaked into
our lives and altered the stuff of which we are made? That is the
Responsibility for _me_ who speak and for _you_ who hear: "To him that
knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin."

A Bible lesson written for you and dwelling on your special life and
dangers is a more pointed reminder to you than a general sermon, and when
you leave you will not get these reminders: one is hardly ever spoken to
religiously after being grown up. It is no one's business afterwards (as
it is mine now) to speak to you.

Therefore I want you always to keep some religious book on hand that is
likely to _speak_ to _you_. For instance, Bishop Wilkinson's books speak,
so do Dean Paget's and Law's "Serious Call," and "Christian Perfection."
Read a little of such a book every day, and a longer bit on Sunday. If you
only say your prayers and go to church, it is apt to become an outside
thing; you want stirring up!

When you go out into the world you may drift into the ways of each
household you are with for the time being; whereas I want you to have your
own definite religious life, an inner life of rules and duties: dress like
other people, but keep a hair shirt underneath, as the Saints did.

And when I talk about this and that piece of advice (advice which is often
worldly wisdom; for goodness and worldly wisdom are closely
allied), - always remember that I pre-suppose the life of prayer and rule
about which I so often speak - only _there_ can you gain strength to follow
such advice.

But now (pre-supposing the inner religious life - the effort after the
Practice of the Presence of God) - what shall I pick out as practical
advice for a closing lesson to those who are going into the world?

I. - Always _vote on the right side_ in conversation.

Very often the lower side, or the _un_religious side in talk (or in

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