Wednesday, September 3, 2008

An old dog CAN learn new tricks

Presbyterian Magazine
April, 1858.
edited by Rev. C. Van Rensselaer, D.D.
Published in Philadelphia by Joseph M. Wilson.

From Household Thoughts: “A Woman’s Growth in Beauty,”

If women could only believe it, there is a wonderful beauty even in growing old. The charm of expression arising from softened temper or ripened intellect, often amply atones for the loss of form and colouring; and, consequently, to those who never could boast of either of these latter, years give much more than they take away. A sensitive person often requires half a lifetime to get thoroughly used to this corporeal machine, to attain a wholesome indifference, both to its defects and perfections, and to learn, at last, what nobody would acquire from any teacher but experience, that it is the mind alone which is of any consequence; that with a good temper, sincerity, and a moderate stock of brains—or even the two former only—any sort of body can, in time, be made useful, respectable, and agreeable, as a traveling-dress for the soul. Many a one who was absolutely plain in youth, thus grows pleasant and well-looking in declining years. You will hardly ever find anybody, not ugly in mind, who is repulsively ugly in person after middle life.
So with the character. If a woman is ever to be wise or sensible, the chances are that she will have become so somewhere between thirty and forty. Her natural good qualities will have developed; her evil ones have been either partly subdued, or have outgrown her, like rampant weeds; for however we may talk about people being “not a whit altered –just the same as ever”—not one of us is, or can be, for long together, exactly the same; no more than the body we carry with us is the identical body we were born with, or the one we supposed ours seven years ago. Therein, as in our spiritual self which inhabits it, goes on a perpetual change and renewal; if this ceased, the result would be, not permanence, but corruption. In moral and mental, as well as physical growth, it is impossible to remain stationary; if we do not advance, we retrograde. Talk of “too late to improve”—“too late to learn,” &c. Idle words! A human being should be improving with every day of a lifetime; and will probably have to go on learning through all the ages of immortality.