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LETTER* OF ST. JEROME TO LETA, ON THE EDUCATION OF HER DAUGHTER.

Of this kind must be the education of a soul which is intended for a temple of the Holy Ghost :-Let her not learn to hear or say any thing but what savors of the fear of God. Impure language let her not understand, or know any thing of worldly songs; while her tongue is yet tender, let its acquaintance be only with sweet psalms. Keep her away from the wantonness of youth; nay, let even her maidens and attendants be debarred all secular connections, lest what they have learnt amiss they should teach worse. Let her have letters made of box and ivory, and learn to call them by their proper names; these will amuse her, and thus amusement will become instruction. And let her not only know the letters in their order, so as to repeat their names by rote, but change the order frequently, mixing the middle with the first, and the last with the middle, till she can recognize them by sight as well as sound. But when her trembling hand begins to hold a pen, let its tender joints be guided by the hand of another, placed over hers; or else let the letters be. engraved upon a tablet, so that she may trace out their forms without wandering from the lines of the engraving. Induce her to put syllables together by rewards, and encourage her with such little gifts as please the mind of infancy. Give her also companions in her lessons, to excite her emulation, and even sting her by the praises they receive. Do not find fault with her, if she is slow; but call out her powers by commendation, making her feel pleasure in excelling, and pain in being excelled. Above all things, take care that she does not get disgusted with her studies; lest any prejudice against them, contracted in her infancy, should extend beyond it. Let the very names by which she learns to make up letters into words be not taken at random, but selected and brought together with a view to some good purpose; the names, for instance, of prophets and apostles, with the whole line of patriarchs, from Adam downward, according to St. Matthew and St. Luke; thus, while otherwise engaged, her memory will be preparing for its future duties. Then you must look out for a tutor of approved age, and character, and learning; nor will a man of learning blush to do that for a relation, or for any noble virgin, which Aristotle did for the son of Philip, for whose sake that philosopher condescended to the office of a clerk, and instructed him in the first rudiments of knowledge. Small things must not be despised, when great things can not come to pass without them. The letters themselves, and the first rules of education, sound very differently from the mouth of the rustic and the learned. You must take care, therefore, that the silly. affectation of women does not give her a habit of pronouncing her words imperfectly; and that she does not idly amuse herself in dress and jewels,—of which things, one is fatal to the morals, the other to the elocution: do not let her learn in infancy what she will have to unlearn afterward. The Gracchi are said to have been not a little indebted for their eloquence to their mother's conversation. The style of Hortensius was formed in his father's bosom. It is a hard thing to get rid of that which the untutored mind has first imbibed. Who can restore the wool of purple dye to its native whiteness? The vessel long retains the taste and smell with which it has been fresh imbued. Greek history tells us that Alexander, the most powerful of kings, the conqueror of the world, never could throw off the defects in manner and gait which he had contracted in his infancy from his instructor, Leonides. For we are all disposed to imitate the bad; and we can soon copy a man's vices, though we can not reach unto his virtues. Take care, therefore, that her nurse is not

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* St. Jerome's Works, Vol. I., fo. 26. Edition of Erasmus, Basil, 1516. We have omit. led a few introductory paragraphs of St. Jerome's Letter to Lata as irrelevant to the main subject.

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drunken, or wanton, or fond of talking; but let her have a modest woman to carry her, and one of becoming gravity to nurse her. Above all, let the infant soldier know the Captain, and the army, for whose service she is trained. Let her long for them, and threaten to go over to them. Let even her dress and apparel remind her for whom she is intended. Do not pierce her ears for ear-rings, or defile with artificial colors the beauty that is consecrated unto Christ. Load not her neck with gold and pearls, nor burden her head with jewels, nor give her hair a faming dye, —100 true an omen of the flames of hell. Let her pearls be of a different kind from such as she may sell and buy," the pearl of great price."

Eli, the high-priest, offended God by the vices of his sons. can not be a bishop, if he has profligate and disobedient children. On the other hand, we are told that “a woman shall be saved in child-bearing, if they continue in faith, and charity, and holiness, with sobriety." If the virtues of those who are of mature age and independent will are imputed to the parents, how much more of those who are but babes and sucklings, and do not know their right hand from their left,—the difference, that is, between good and evil! If you are so anxious that your daughter should avoid a viper's sting, why are you not equally careful that she be not stricken by “the hammer of the whole earth ;" that she drink not of the golden cup of Babylon; that she go not forth with Dinah, or wish to see the daughters of a strange land; that her feet grow not wanton, or her garments trail behind her? Poisons are never given, unless the cup is smeared with honey; and vices can not deceive, except under the shade of virtues. How, then, you will say, are the sins of the fathers not imputed to the children, and of the children to the fathers, but “the soul which sinneth, it shall die?” This is spoken of those whose years admit of wisdom, of whom it is written in the gospel, “He is of age, let him speak for himself.” But so long as he is a child, and thinks as a child, till he has arrived at years of discretion, and the point where good and evil, like the Pythagorean letter,* become divergent-up to that time his actions, good or evil, are imputed to his parents. Unless, indeed, you suppose that the sons of Christians, if they continue unbaptized, bear all the guilt of sin themselves, and that none of it falls on the head of those who refuse to bestow that sacrament upon them, especially at a time when its recipients could not reject it; just as, on the other hand, the salvation of the infant is a gain unto the parents. It was in your own power to offer your daughter or not (though here your condition is peculiar, inasmuch as you had vowed her to God's service before she was conceived ;) but now she is offered, you can only neglect her at your own peril. He who offers a victim lame or mutilated, or blemished in any other way, is guilty of sacrilege; how much heavier the punishment of him who offers a part of his own body, and the purity of an untainted soul, to the acceptance of his King, if he is careless in preserving that which he has so disposed !

When she is growing up, and beginning, like her Bridegroom, to increase in wisdom, and stature, and favor with God and man, let her go with her parents to the temple of her heavenly Father; but let her not depart from the temple. Let them seek her in the journeys of the world, among her kinsfolk and acquaintance, and find her nowhere but in the sanctuary of the Scriptures, asking questions of prophets and apostles about the spiritual marriage of the soul with Christ. Let her imitate Mary, whom the angel Gabriel found alone in her chamber; and therefore, perhaps, she was alarmed, because she beheld the form of a man to whom she was a stranger. Let her imitate her of whom it is said, “The king's daughter is all glorious within."

• The letter Y was made by the Pythagoreans a symbol of the parting road of human life one of its branches representing virtue, the other vice

Let her, moreover, not eat in public, that is, be present at her parents' meals; lest she should see dainties to excite her longing. For though some persons think it a higher virtue to despise present pleasure, to my mind there is greater security for temperance in not knowing the object of desire. I remember reading in a book at school, “that you will hardly find fault with that which has become habitual." Let her learn, even now, not to drink wine, “wherein is excess.” However, abstinence is irksome and dangerous to the young, before the body has attained its full strength and proportions. Up to that time, therefore, let her use the bath, if necessity requires; and take little wine, for her stomach's sake; and have animal food, lest her limbs fail her before they begin to do their duty. I say this as a matter of indulgence unto her, not of command to you—to prevent weakness, not to inculcate luxury. Otherwise, why should not a Christian virgin do that altogether which Jewish superstition does in part, by the rejection of certain animals and meats; not to mention the Indian Bramins and Egyptian Gymnosophists, who live entirely upon barley flour, and rice, and fruits? If glass is of such a value, are not pearls of greater price? Let the daughter of promise live as those lived who were the children of promise. Where the grace is equal, let the labor be equal also. Let her be deaf to instruments of music, and be a stranger to the very use of the pipe, and harp, and lyre.

Let her every day repeat a lesson culled from the flowers of Scripture, learning a number of verses in Greek, and immediately afterward being instructed in Latin; for, if the tender mouth is not properly molded from the very commencement, the pronunciation will acquire a foreign accent, the faults of which will pass into her native tongue. You must be her governess, and the model of her untutored infancy; take care that she sees nothing in you, or in her father, which she would be wrong in doing. Remember that you are her parents, and that she learns more from your example than your voice. Flowers are soon dead; the violet, and the lily, and the crocus, soon fade in an unwholesome air. Never let her go into public, unless accompanied by you; nor enter the sanctuaries built over martyrs' tombs, or churches, without her mother. Beware of the nods and smiles of the young and gay; let the solemn vigils and nocturns be spent without departing from her mother's side. Do not let her attach herself too closely to any one of her maidens, or make her ear the depositary of her secrets. All should hear what is said to one. Let the companion she chooses be not well dressed or beautiful, or with a voice of liquid harmony; but grave, and pale, and meanly clad, and of solemn countenance. Set over her an aged virgin, of approved faith, and modesty, and conduct, to teach and habituate her, by her own example, to rise up by night for prayer and psalms, to sing her morning hymns, and to take her place in the ranks, like a Christian warrior, at the third, and sixth, and ninth hours; and, again, to light her lamp and offer up her evening sacrifice. Let the day pass, and the night find her at this employment. Prayer and reading, reading and prayer, must be the order of her life; nor will the time travel slowly when it is filled by such engagements.

Teach her also the working of wool, to hold the distaff, to place the basket in her lap, to ply the spindle, and draw out the threads. But let her have nothing to do with silk, or golden thread. Let the clothes she makes be such as to keep out the cold, and not a mere compromise with nakedness. Her food should be a few herbs, and so forth, with sometimes a few small fishes. But not to go into details on this subject, of which I have elsewhere spoken more at length, - let her always leave off eating with an appetite, so that she may be able to read and sing immediately. I do not approve of protracted and inordinate fastings, especially for those of tender years, where week is added unto week, and the use of oil and fruit prohibited. I have experienced the truth of the proverb, “A tired ass will not go straight.” But the rule to be constantly observed in fasting is this: take care that your strength is equal to your journey, lest, after running the first stage, you break down in the middle of it.

But to return to the subject: when you go into the country, do not leave you daughter at home; she must neither be able or know how to do without you, and be afraid of being left alone. She must not converse with people of the world, or be in the same house with ill-conducted virgins. She must not be present at the marriages of her servants, or have any thing to do with the games of noisy domestics.

Let her delight not in silk and jewels, but in the holy writings, where there is no gold or mosaic painting, like that on Babylonian leather, to arrest the eye; but sound learning, corrected by sound faith, to inform the mind. Let her first learn the Psalter, and give her hours of leisure to these holy songs. From the proverbs of Solomon she will gather practical instruction; Ecclesiastes will teach her to despise the world; in Job she will find examples of virtue and endurance. Then let her go to the Gospels, and never lay them down. The Acts of the Apostles, with the Epistles, must be imbibed with all the ardor of her heart. When her mind is thoroughly stored with these treasures, she may commit the prophets to her memory, together with the Heptateuch, and the books of Kings and Chronicles, with those of Esdras and Esther. The Song of Solomon she may read last without danger; if she reads it earlier, she may not discern that a spiritual union is celebrated under carnal words. All the Apocryphal books should be avoided; but if she ever wishes to read them, not to establish the truth of doctrines, but with a reverential feeling for the truths they signify, she should be told that they are not the works of the authors by whose names they are distinguished, that they contain much that is faulty, and that it is a task requiring great prudence to find gold in the midst of clay. The works of Cyprian should be ever in her hands. She may run over the Epistles of Athanasius, and the books of Hilary, without any danger of stumbling. Let her pleasures be in such treatises and writers of such character as most evince the piety of an unwavering faith. All other authors she should read to judge of what they say, not simply to follow their instructions.

You will answer here, “How can a woman living in the world, in the midst of so vast a population as that of Rome, look after all these things ?" Do not, therefore, undertake a burden which you are unable to bear; but as soon as you have weaned her with Isaac, and clothed her with Samuel, send her to her grandmother and aunt. Restore its most precious jewel to the chamber of Mary, and place her in the cradle of the infant Jesus. Let her be brought up in the convent, in the company of virgins; let her never learn to swear; to think falsehood a sacrilege; be ignorant of the world; live the life of an angel; be in the flesh, but not of it; believe every human being to be of the like nature with herself. Thus, to say nothing more, you will be released froin the difficulty of keeping her, and the risk of watching over her. Better to regret her absence than to be in perpetual anxiety, what she is saying, with whom she is conversing, whom she is recognizing, whom she is glad to see. Resign to the care of Eustochium the infant whose very cries are even now a prayer for thine own good. Make her the companion of her holiness, hereafter to be its heiress. From her earliest years let her look to her, love her, admire her, whose very words, and gait, and dress, are a lesson of the virtues. Let her dwell in the bosom of her grandmother, who may reproduce in her grandchild what she before experienced in her daughter, and who knows by experience how to bring up, and keep and instruct virgins, whose glory it is, in the virgins she has nurtured, to be daily bringing forth fruit a hundred fold. O happy Paula! happy virgin! happy child of Toxotius, more ennobled by the virtues of her aunt and grandmother than by her high descent! 0 Læta, that you could see your mother-in-law and sister-in-law, and the mighty souls that animate their feeble bodies! I doubt not your natural modesty would then set the example to your daughter, and change the first command of God for the second law of the Gospel. You would then care little for the longing after other children, but would rather offer up yourself to God. But as there is a time for indulging, and a time for abstaining from it; as a wife has no power over her body; as unto what calling soever a man is called, in that let him remain in the Lord; as he, who is under the yoke, ought to run so as not to leave his fellow in the mire, restore that whole in thy daughter which thou hast divided in thyself

. Hannah never received again the son whom she had vowed to God, after he had been once presented in the temple, thinking it unbecoming that a future prophet should be brought up in the house with one who was yet looking to have children. When she conceived and brought for:h, she dared not enter the temple and appear empty before God, till she had first payed what she owed; but after this sacrifice she returned home, and brought forth five children, because she had brought forth her firstborn unto God. Admirest thou the happiness of that holy woman? Imitate her faith. If you only send Paula, I will undertake the office of her nurse and teacher; I will carry her on my shoulders, old as I am; I will mold into form her lisping words, much prouder of my office than any worldly philosopher,-training up not a Macedonian king to die by Babylonian poison, but a hand-maiden and bride of Christ, a fit offering to an everlasting kingdom.

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