Teach her that this world is not a stage for the display of superficial or even of shining talent, but for the strict and sober exercise of fortitude, temperance, meekness, faith, diligence and self-denial; of her due performance of which Christian graces, angels will be spectators, and God the judge.
Teach her that human life is not a splendid romance, spangled over with brilliant adventures, and enriched with extraordinary occurrences, and diversified with wonderful incidents; lead her not to expect that it will abound with scenes which will call extraordinary qualities and wonderful powers into perpetual action; and for which, if she acquit herself well, she will be rewarded with proportionate fame and certain commendation. But apprise her that human life is a true history, many passages of which will be dull, obscure, and uninteresting; some perhaps tragical; but that whatever gay incidents and pleasing scenes may be interspersed in the progress of the piece, yet, finally ‘one event happeneth to all;’ to all there is one awful and infallible catastrophe. Apprise her that the estimation which mankind forms of merit is not always just, nor is its praise very exactly proportioned to desert; tell her that the world weighs actions in far different scales from ‘the balance of the sanctuary’, and estimates worth by a far different standard from that of the Gospel. Apprise her that while her purest intentions may be sometimes calumniated, and her best actions misrepresented, she will on the other hand, be liable to receive commendation on occasions wherein her conscience will tell her she has not deserved it; and that she may be extolled by others for actions for which if she be honest, she will condemn herself.
Do not, however, give her a gloomy and discouraging picture of the world, but rather seek to give her a just and sober view of the part she will have to act in it. And restrain the impetuosity of hope, and cool the ardour of expectation, by explaining to her, that this part, even in her best estate, will probably consist in a succession of petty trials, and a round of quiet duties, which, if well performed, though they will make little or not figure in the book of fame, will prove of vast importance to her in that day when another ‘book is opened, and the judgment is set, and every one will be judged according to the deeds done in the body, whether they be good or bad.’
Say not that these just and sober views will cruelly wither her young hopes, blast her budding prospects, and deaden the innocent satisfactions of life. It is not true. There is, happily, an active spring in the mind of youth which bounds with fresh vigour and uninjured elasticity from any such temporary depression. And though her feelings, tastes, and passions, will all be against you, if you set before her a faithful delineation of life, yet it will be something to get her judgment on your side. It is no unkind office to assist the short view of youth with the aids of long-sighted experience; to enable them to discover spots in the brightness of that world which dazzles them in prospect, though it is probably they will after all choose to believe their own eyes, rather than the offered glass.
~ Hannah More