Every-day Thoughts in Prose and Verse
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
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When a Woman is at Her Best.
To the simple question, "At what age does a
woman reach her greatest perfection, phys-
ically and mentally?" there must be a complex
   The woman, the environment, the climate, must
all be considered.  The horse, the dog, the cat,
have their stated period of perfect development,
subject to few variations.  Man himself can be
relied upon for certain conditions at certain ages.
He is in the pin-feathered period at fourteen, and
despises all girls; adores mature ones at eighteen,
knows everything at twenty, begins to realize that
he knows nothing at thirty, is delightful and dan-
gerous at thirty-three, and charming at fifty.
Woman, more variable and elusive in all things,
eludes and evades classification in these matters.
   She may be a Circe at fourteen, with amazing wit
and charm; or she may remain an undeveloped
anaemic until twenty-five and then bloom into a
glorious womanhood.  I have seen in one family
the two extremes; the young girl of sixteen who
was at the perfection of her physical womanhood,
and an older sister just coming into her heritage of
voluptuous beauty at twenty-four.
   The southern girl matures sooner, and fades
sooner than her sisters in temperate climes, just as
southern roses bloom and fall earlier than with us;
and as with the roses, her bloom is more brilliant,
her beauty more dazzling while it lasts.
   Lovely as early youth is, there comes a later time
in the life of a perfect woman when heart, brain,
and soul unite to render her a thousandfold more
attractive than she was in her early morning.
   As the perfume to the flower, so is the expression
of the inner nature shining through a woman's face.
   There must be something more than the hope and
animation of youth to produce this expression; there
must be feeling, already ripened by some of life's
maturer experiences, and sympathy, already awak-
ened by regard for humanity.
   Unless her early youth has been marred by ill
health or disaster to her nervous organization, our
American woman usually reaches the perfection of
her physical development at about the age of twenty-
eight.  She is in full possession of all the charms of
early teens; her bloom is unimpaired, her eye is
full of luster, her figure retains its slender round-
ness.  But added to these charms is the subtle fas-
cination of a heart beginning to experience the
deeper joys and sorrows of life, a soul reaching for-
ward the invisible, and a mind beginning to contem-
plate the serious questions of life.
   It is after her twenty-fifth year that the average
American woman attains her physical and mental
perfection; and for a period of eight or ten years
she seems to retain her undiminished charms.
Then begins an almost imperceptible change; it is
the curled edge of the rose--scarcely noticeable to
the casual observer, but it is the remorseless fore-
runner of decay.  It may be a period of years, even
a decade, before any eye but her own will discover
it, so skilled is she in the arts of preservation of her
charms; yet all these years she carries that saddest
of all sad secrets in her heart, that her sun has
crossed the zenith, and that her long day of beauty
is on the wane.
   Happy is she who, when the admiration of the
multitude is no longer to be expected, can fall back
upon the respect and affection of her friends.  Happy
is she who uses her noontime of life to prepare for
a calm and peaceful evening.
Every-day thoughts in prose and verse. by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Chicago: W. B. Conkey Company, 1901.
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