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Arthur, T.S. – Advice to Young Ladies on Their Duties and Conduct in Life

Advice to Young Ladies on Their Duties and Conduct in LifeAdvice to Young Ladies on Their Duties and Conduct in Life
By Timothy Shay Arthur, 1849

This is a moral advice work by an older author.


Brengle When the Holy Ghost is Come
is from the Salvation Army tradition, and Brengle was part of the Deeper Life Movement.
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Right Views of Life
Entering upon Life
Habits of Order and Neatness
Domestic and Culinary Affairs
Improvement of the Mind
External Condition
Gossiping and Evil-speaking
Conduct Towards Parents
Equality of the Sexes
Conduct Towards Men
Character of the Men Who Are Received as Visitors Receiving Attentions from Men
Early Marriages
The Year after Marriage
A Common Mistake


Right modes of thinking are the basis of all correct action. This is just as true of one gender as the other. Woman is a rational being, and must, in all the various relations in life, come under the guidance of right reason. It is from this cause that we shall, in addressing our young friends on their duties and conduct in life, appeal at once to their rational faculty. Specific forms and rules of action, to be observed on certain occasions, are very well as far as they go; but a mere formulary of good manners and right conduct is a poor substitute for that enlightened reason, by which a woman can at once determine for herself how she should speak and act under any and all circumstances.
In society, as well as in books, we constantly hear it said that a young lady should act thus and thus in a specified case; but a sound reason why she should thus act, is too rarely given. She is expected to take the mere dictum of those more experienced than herself, whether the reasonableness of the thing is apparent to her own mind or not. The consequence is, that what parents and friends see and declare to be right — a young lady too often thinks an indifferent matter, and, led on by her inclinations or peculiar temperament, sees no harm in acting directly in opposition to the views and wishes of those older and wiser than herself. Many fatal errors have arisen from this cause. The advice thus given is, in most cases, good; but, being unaccompanied by a comprehensible reason — it is not regarded when it opposes a strong inclination to act differently.

Right modes of thinking are the basis of all correct action. This we repeat, as a most important truism, and one which every young lady should regard as the foundation upon which her whole character should be laid. If she does not think right — then how can she act right? To learn to think right, is, therefore, a matter of primary concern. If there are right modes of thinking — then right actions will follow as a natural consequence. To aid in the attainment of this most desirable state, is one of the objects which will be kept in view by the writer, who will seek rather to give principles of action, than rules of conduct; although the latter will not be entirely neglected.

False views of life everywhere prevail. We meet with them in our daily fellowship, in the social circle, and in books. From these flow many and various errors in life, the effects of which are often felt when it is too late to remedy them. And too frequently it happens that the sad experiences of a whole lifetime fail to correct the original error, or give the ability to guard, by right precepts, the young and inexperienced. It is from this reason, that, in giving advice, many people, who have attained an advanced age, urge the opposite extreme of their own early life as the true mode of conduct.

The foundation of all error, in regard to life, lies in a single misconception — that of imagining self to be the center, instead of clearly understanding that each individual is only a part of a great whole, a member of a common body. This is a truth so essential to the well-being of society, and to the happiness of each individual, that it will be kept prominent throughout this volume. It is a truth as essential to a woman’s, as to a man’s happiness.

Feeling and perception are the peculiar distinguishing features of a woman’s mind; and by these, more than by a process of reasoning on a subject — does she ordinarily arrive at conclusions, and determine her actions. By virtue of this her peculiar form of mind, she is able, in most cases, to determine a question of right and wrong correctly; but this she cannot always do. Her reason must, after all, be, in the main, a guide to her perceptions; and this reason, to be an unfailing guide — must be enlightened by truth. There must be true modes of thinking, or there cannot be uniform, correct action. The one is absolutely essential to the other.

Our fair young friends will see, by these few introductory remarks, that we shall, as already said, address their reason. It is the highest gift bestowed upon them by God. It is, in fact, that which makes a man or a woman distinctively human. For a woman to think in her sphere, is as essential as for a man to think in his; and the more truths she has from which to think, the more accurate will be her conclusions. Still, there is a very great difference between the mind of a woman and the mind of a man — a difference that all should clearly see, and which we shall set forth in its proper place.

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