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3. Find a woman of good sense, of common, or rather what is, in our time, as well as, I believe, in every other time, more properly termed uncom. mon sense. This quality should rank, at all events, second to piety. And if to this she add a little knowledge of the real world and its ways, so much the better. Plant this woman of good common sense and practical mind, in your house; and let her, as best knowing her sex, be the chief person to select its members. Give her its rules, and let these rules be the direction of the house. If desirable the rules may be both general and particular; let both however be as few and comprehensive as possible. Do not let them omit small matters, or count such of no importance; on small matters the unchangeableness, and even the peace of a community, as well as of a family, chiefly depend.
4. Let the rules specify the range of the work to which the body, whose action they constitute and regulate, is devoted ;-schools, national or private ; visiting the sick ; relieving the poor ; acting if called upon to do so, under government or parochial authority ; attending hospitals or workhouses, prisons, reformatory and disciplinary schools, &c., and going abroad in any of such offices, if chosen and called upon to do so.
5. Let each member of the body corporate, seriously engage to render obedience to whatever rules are sanctioned for the space of one year, being at liberty then to terminate, or renew her engagement. And let the rules of the house, and the obedience they demand, be the real direction of each of its members.
6. Let the head, or mother house, maintain two schools, or rather two classes of a school; the lower, or primary school being partly the feeding place for the higher. But in the lower school make the mode of education just that which girls usually receive; let them learn all they would learn at other schools, and acquire manners and accomplishments calculated to fit them for their places in the world, remembering that the young lady who is even trained in a convent, leaves it prepared to enter on her station in the most brilliant circles of fashionable life. Only let the grand principles of religion and charity on which your house is founded, be felt throughout it, as the very atmosphere that is naturally breathed within it.
7. Let the higher or upper school, be for such of these girls as shall show qualities or dispositions which may, with the approbation of parents and guardians—and in the case of the orphan and friendless, these dispositions should be the most carefully cherished)—enable them to be passed into it as a preparation for the life of charity.
8. Let the first school be a chief means of supporting the house; but, in addition to both, let there be a third class to consist of novices, or as the French Protestants believe they less proudly call themselves, of aspirants, who after one or two years' instruction and trial shall enter on the life of a Sister of Charity. For each school there should be a mistress chosen out of the community, having teachers to act under her, while she is in obedience to the head of the house. If extra, or external teachers be desired by parents, they should be obtainable. To avoid vulgarity, or diversity in dress, let each class have its uniform, but let the first class have such as is commonly seen in schools. Do not reckon the dress of the Sisters of Charity among the matters that are of no importance. Let this constitute a part of their rules from which there shall be no deviation.
9. Let it be distinctive, that it may become known and read of all men ; that the stranger may know whom to stop in the street, and that the little child may not make a mistake. Let pot this dress be needlessly ugly, repulsive, mournful, or unbecoming; but let its distinguishing character be that of utility. In its make and its material, utility, and suitability, are the two things to be considered. Let there be no flowing or unwieldy robes, in length or width encumbering the active wearer; let it be loose, especially for the arms. A woollen texture is the best for all weathers; in rain or heat it is the safest; if made loose it is not oppressive; this ought to be unchanged within doors and without; additional clothing can be worn within it, or changes made in the same way according to the season, but externally the dress should not vary. If possible, I should have them wear hoods, instead of either caps or bonnets, as a matter of expediency, because hoods can be kept on within doors, and will save the delay of having to find and put on bonnets if called on in emergency, and will also prevent the necessity of having to lay them off when visiting or attending.
People do not stare at the yellow stockings and bare heads of the blue-coat boys, and it is to be hoped they would soon cease to stare at the hoods of the Sisters of Charity. If not, they will in time get used to them, and the courage of the Society of Friends must be imitated. The fashions of the present day, however, allow of great latitude. My English landlady wore the other day a jacket and skirt of the same material, which, if the curious cap had been substituted for the commonplace bonnet, would not have been very unlike that Vincent de Paul gave his daughters two hundred and fifty years ago.
An entire dress of one thing, without shawls, cloaks, or bonnets, so as to have no frequent putting on and off, is, in point of utility, a great object. Dark blue, brown, or grey, might be chosen in colour; the two first wear the best ; and dark blue with a black hood would not be ugly. Singularity is desirable, is indeed essential; but it need not necessarily be singularity in ugliness.
Nor should one important characteristic of a religious and charitable work be unprovided for. I mean that of rendering the house a permanent home
for those who enter it. The truly uncatholic feature of women living in such a house under the, at least tacit, impression that they are by no means to think of dying in it, but may, or even must, have to make room one day for younger, stronger, or more suitable members of their community, ought to be done away with. Would to God we might yet, as is the case in the Moravian establishments, see our houses of charity of all descriptions, provided with their own cemeteries, where the servants who rest from their labours might do so in the presence of those who still laboured in their little vineyard.
This would be a hope to the labourers, and encourage them to continue on working and living in the very spot where their graves would be cherished by those who were to follow their steps.
Kaiserswerth has built a separate house for the reception of old or infirm sisters; and I believe no institution can ever be formed on anything like a Catholic basis, so long as this distinctive feature of permanency be omitted from the minds both of those who found, and those who undertake to work in them.
10. The sisters shall be liable to be sent out in small communities on the appointment of the Superior, under the charge of a Sister Superior ; which sister shall have the sole direction of the community committed to her care, and each of its members shall be under obedience to her, while she herself is under obedience to the Superior of the mother house,