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Page:The Daughters of England.djvu/252

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It is my intention to occupy the present chapter with farther observations upon the three great enemies to woman's advancement in moral excellence—selfishness, vanity and artifice, as opposed to her disinterestedness, simplicity of heart, and integrity.

It seems to be a strange anomaly in her nature, that in connection with all which woman is capable of doing and suffering for the good of others, there should lurk about her heart a peculiar kind of selfishness, which the strong discipline of personal trial, and often of severe affliction, is frequently required to subdue. It is justly remarked of woman, that in cases of afflictive dispensation, the qualities of her heart and mind generally appear to the greatest advantage, and none of them more so, than her devotedness; by which I would be understood to mean, the power she sometimes evinces of throwing every consideration of self into the balance as nothing, when weighed against the interest or the happiness of those she loves. Supported under some of the most trying vicissitudes of life by this spirit of devotedness, her capabilities of acting and enduring have sometimes appeared almost superhuman; so much so, that when we contemplate woman in this point of view, we almost fail to recognize, as a being of the same species, the idle flutterer of the ball-room, or the listless murmurer beside the parental hearth.

It is a fearful thing to await the coming of "the dark days of sorrow," before the evil spirit of selfishness, shall