George Leblanc, in her book Souvenirs, My Life with Maeterlinck, describes the startling transformation of a humble Belgian Cinderella.
“A servant girl from neighbourhood hotel who brought my meals was called ‘Marie the Dishwasher’ because she had started her career as a scullery assistant. She was kind of monster, crossed-eyed, bandy-legged, poor in flesh and spirit.
“One day… I said to her point-blank, ‘Marie, you do not know what treasures are within you.’
“Accustomed to holding back her emotion, Marie waited a few moments, not daring to risk the slightest gesture for fear of a catastrope. She sighed and said, ‘Madam, I would never have believed it.’ She did not doubt, she did not ask a question… The most curious change occured in the humble Marie. Believing she was the tabernacle of unseen marvels, she began taking care of her face and body so carefully that her starved youth seemed to bloom and modestly hide her plainess.
“Two months later, she announced her coming marriage with the newphew of the chef. ‘I’m going to be a lady,’ she said, and thanked me.”
There is no such whetstone, to sharpen a good with and encourage a will to learning, as is praise.
– Roger Ascham