One of the best, noblest, and most useful old maids I have ever known once said to me: 'Why was I not warned, why did no one remind me that to most women the chances do not come often, and that if we do not take them while we are young and have something to give, they do not come again, or not at any rate in the way that, being older, we can accept?'

When women turn to practical work, their high hopes are even more frequently disappointed than those of men - so many things weight their career, and the sense of failure is so frequently all that they reap.

Have you thought, in your moments of triumph,

Oh you that are high in the tree, Of the days and the nights that are bitter So bitter to others and me? When the efforts to do what is clever

Result in a failure so sad, And the clouds of despondency gather

And dim all the hopes that we had?

Have you thought when the world was applauding

Your greatness, whatever it be, Of the tears that in silence were falling Yes, falling from others and me? When the hardest and latest endeavours

Appeared to be only in vain, And we've curtained our eyes in the night-time

Indiff'rent to waking again?

Those who just miss their lives are those I pity. It seems to me that, of all bad teaching, the worst is to live only in the present and try in no way to look to the future.

Great sorrow or trouble, or loss of money or sickness, seem mercifully to preserve in some women certain qualities of youth which always remain attractive to men, even far on into middle life. Such misfortunes embalm the qualities which the more ordinary experiences and pleasures of life destroy. Hence the unexpected and deep love episodes at an age when young people imagine such a thing is impossible. I remember quite well thinking at eighteen: 'What does it matter what women of thirty do?' Has not the world been lately given an example of this kind of love, for which it will eternally be the richer, in the Browning love-letters?

That clever old French wit Chamfort, when he was reproached by a lady for not caring about women, answered: 'Je puis dire sur elles ce que disait Madame de C. sur les enfants: "J'ai dans ma tête un fils dont je n'ai jamais pu accoucher "; j'ai dans l'esprit une femme comme il y en a peu, qui me preserve des femmes comme il y en a beaucoup; j'ai bien des obligations à cette femme-là.' I believe this kind of feeling keeps many, especially cautious men, bachelors. This is a mistake, even from their own point of view, as these are the very men who are apt to fall victims to strong fancies when it is least wise for them to do so; and when they are on the borders of old age Nature often has her revenge.

I quote the Chamfort story to remind girls that good and sensible men require certain qualities in a woman whom they are thinking of marrying, and the reason why ordinary women are wise to consider twice about refusing to marry young is that perhaps that gift of youth is the only real thing they will ever have to give a man. When a dead level of mediocrity is reached, think how large is a man's choice, in England especially! What is there in a woman of from thirty to thirty-five, who has knocked about the world, flirted and amused herself, given and taken all she could get, that should particularly make a man desire to marry her? Her freshness is gone, and her want of wisdom is often sadly apparent.

We all know 'Punch's' advice to a man about to marry: 'Don't.' My advice is exactly the contrary. I say: Do, and don't wait till love of your bachelorhood becomes too strong a custom. But except when very young, in which case the wild oats will probably be sown in an undignified way at the end of life, don't marry exclusively for what is called love. Let the heart and the head go together. For a woman I think it is wise and often right to marry a man out of a sort of gratitude; it rarely answers for a man to marry for this reason a woman who has loved him not wisely but too well.

I do not for one entirely condemn the French customs as regards marriage, though I believe they themselves are modifying them. When marriages are a question of reason and arrangement, I think it is better that such things should be managed by the elders than by the young people; and if Englishmen of sense, when they make up their minds to marry, would take the help and advice of older women in seeking a wife, instead of going about with the hope that they may be fancy-stricken through the eye, I think more suitable marriages would be brought about, both as regards character and the very natural wish that the woman should have a certain proportion of money to help the joint menage.

If a man who has married with his best judgment really cares to win the love of a girl after marriage, and takes pains to do so, he is sure to succeed - it is so natural for a good affectionate woman to love her husband and the father of her children.

Of course if a girl, with no sense of duty, merely sells herself to shine in the world, or for admiration and notoriety, which she thinks she will get better married than single, there is nothing to be said. Such things will always be; but a girl of that type is rare, and almost as mischievous single as married. The type of women that men often know most about was thus described to me by a man. He gave it as his deliberate opinion of women as he had found them: 'They are curious creatures; in religion they can believe fifty times as much as any man. In love they only believe when they see and hear you; as soon as your back is turned they scream and cry out you have abandoned them. Before you come they want you, when you have gone you have betrayed them, and they wonder that a man cannot bear that sort of thing for ever. Do you call me practical for speaking in this way? Very well, I am practical - and tell you what I know.'

To go back to our original text, 'The Marriage Market.' The writers of all four articles seem to me too much under the impression that marriages are decided by the parents. So far as my experience goes, in England this is not the case. The girls take their lives in their own hands, though often with very insufficient knowledge. I have known girls who distrust to such a degree the feelings they may have for a man who is rich that they have actually refused him for fear they should be influenced by worldly reasons, everyone about them taking it for granted that they could never be so foolish as not to marry him. Many girls think of marriage solely as a means of escaping home duties, and assume that the duties will be lighter after marriage than before.