Many Theresas have been born who found for themselves no epic life wherein there was a constant unfolding of far-resonant action ; perhaps only a life of mistakes , the offspring of a certain spiritual grandeur ill-matched with the meanness of opportunity ; perhaps a tragic failure which found no sacred poet and sank unwept into oblivion . With dim lights and tangled circumstance they tried to shape their thought and deed in noble agreement ; but after all, to common eyes their struggles seemed mere inconsistency and formlessness ; for these later born Theresas were helped by no coherent social faith and order which could perform the function of knowledge for the ardently willing soul. Their ardour alternated between a vague ideal and the common yearning of womanhood ; so that the one was disapproved as extravagance , and the other condemned as a lapse.
Some have felt that these blundering lives are due to the inconvenient indefiniteness with which the supreme power has fashioned the natures of women: if there were one level of feminine incompetence as strict as the ability to count three and no more , the social lot of women might be treated with scientific certitude. Meanwhile the indefiniteness remains , and the limits of variation are really much wider than anyone would imagine from the sameness of women’s coiffure and the favourite love stories in prose and verse. Here and there a cygnet is reared uneasily among the ducklings in the brown pond, and never finds the living stream in fellowship with its own oary-footed kind. Here and there is born a Saint Theresa , foundress of nothing , whose loving heart beats and sobs after an unattained goodness tremble off and are dispersed among hindrances, instead of centring in some long recognisable deed."