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Title: Maids Wives and Bachelors
Author: Barr, Amelia Edith Huddleston, 1831-1919
Language: English
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MAIDS WIVES AND BACHELORS

  by
  AMELIA E. BARR


  Author of "Jan Vedder's Wife," "A Bow of Orange Ribbon," etc.


  NEW YORK
  DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY
  1898


  Copyright, 1898,
  By Dodd, Mead and Company

  University Press:
  John Wilson and Son, Cambridge, U.S.A.



CONTENTS


                                                                  PAGE
  Maids and Bachelors                                                1
  The American Girl                                                 13
  Dangerous Letter-Writing                                          23
  Flirts and Flirtation                                             32
  On Falling in Love                                                38
  Engaged To Be Married                                             47
  Shall our Daughters have Dowries?                                 56
  The Ring Upon the Finger                                          67
  Flirting Wives                                                    73
  Mothers-in-Law                                                    86
  Good and Bad Mothers                                              97
  Unequal Marriages                                                114
  Discontented Women                                               125
  Women on Horseback                                               145
  A Good Word for Xanthippe                                        155
  The Favorites of Men                                             160
  Mothers of Great and Good Men                                    170
  Domestic Work for Women                                          175
  Professional Work for Women                                      187
  Little Children                                                  200
  On Naming Children                                               205
  The Children's Table                                             217
  Intellectual "Cramming" of Boys                                  225
  The Servant-Girl's Point of View                                 231
  Extravagance                                                     240
  Ought we to Wear Mourning?                                       248
  How To Have One's Portrait Taken                                 254
  The Crown of Beauty                                              272
  Waste of Vitality                                                281
  A Little Matter of Money                                         288
  Mission of Household Furniture                                   293
  People Who Have Good Impulses                                    302
  Worried to Death                                                 307
  The Grapes We Can't Reach                                        313
  Burdens                                                          319



Maids and Bachelors


Women who have devoted themselves for religious purposes to celibacy
have in all ages and countries of the world received honor, but those
upon whom celibacy has been forced, either through the influence of
untoward circumstances, or as a consequence of some want or folly in
themselves, have been objects of most unmerited contempt and dislike.
Unmerited, because it may be broadly asserted that until the last
generation no woman in secular and social life remained unmarried from
desire or from conviction. She was the victim of some natural
disadvantage, or some unhappy circumstance beyond her control, and
therefore entitled to sympathy, but not to contempt.

Of course, there are many lovely girls who appear to have every
advantage for matrimony, and who yet drift into spinsterhood. The
majority of this class have probably been imprudent and over-stayed
their market. They have dallied with their chances too long. Suddenly
they are aware that their beauty is fading. They notice that the
suitable marriageable men who hung around them in their youth have
gone away, and that their places are filled with mere callow youths.
Then they realize their mistakes, and are sorry they have thought
being "an awfully silly little thing" and "having a good time" the end
of their existence. Heart-aches and disappointments enough follow for
their punishment; for they soon divine that when women cease to have
men for lovers, and are attended by school-boys, they have written
themselves down already as old maids.

Closely allied to these victims of folly or thoughtlessness are the
women who remain unmarried because of their excessive vanity--or
natural cruelty. "My dear, I was cruel thirty years ago, and no one
has asked me since." This confession from an aunt to her niece, though
taken from a play, is true enough to tell the real story of many an
old maid. Their vanity made them cruel, and their cruelty condemned
them to a lonely, loveless life. Close observation, however, among the
unmarried women of any one's acquaintance will reveal the fact that it
is not from the ranks of silly or cruel women that the majority of old
maids come. Men do not, as a rule, dislike silly women; and by a wise
provision of nature, they are rather fond of marrying pretty, helpless
creatures who cannot help themselves. Neither are cruel women
universally unpopular. Some lovers like to be snubbed, and would not
value a wife they had not to seek upon their knees. There are,
therefore, always chances for the silly and cruel women.

It is the weak, colorless women, who have privately strong prejudices,
and publicly no assertion of any kind, that have, even in youth, few
opportunities. They either lack the power to love strongly or they
lack the power to express their feelings. They have not the courage to
take any decided step. They long for advances, and when they are made,
recoil from them. They are constitutionally so timid that they fear
any step or any condition which is a positive and final change. If
marriage had some reservations and uncertainties, some loopholes
through which they could drag themselves as a final resort, they would
be more sure of their own wishes. These are the Misses Feeble-minds,
who cast the reproach upon feminine celibacy.

They feel that in some way they have been misunderstood and wronged,
and they come finally to regard all other women as their enemies. They
worry and fret themselves continually, and the worry and fret sharpen
alike their features and their temper. Then their condition is
precisely the one most conducive to complaining and spiteful
gossiping; and they fall, in their weakness and longing for sympathy,
to that level. Thus to the whole class is given a reputation for
malevolent railing which does not by any means belong to it. In fact,
married women are generally more venomous than old maids. The words of
married women have greater weight, and they do more harm; for they can
make suggestions and accusations which an old maid could not make
with any propriety. An old maid's gossip is generally without
intentional malice; she has nothing to do, and she wants to make
herself agreeable; while married women, having plenty else to do,
must, as a general thing, talk scandal from pure ill-nature.

There is a large majority of old maids who are to be sincerely
respected, and from whose numbers men with sense and intelligence may
choose noble wives. They are the pretty, pure, sensible women who have
been too modest, and too womanly, to push and scramble in the social
ranks. They have dwelt in their own homes, and among their own people,
and no one has sought them out. They have seen their youth pass away,
and all their innocent desires fade, and they have suffered what few
can understand before they reached that calm which no thought of a
lover troubles. Sweet faded flowers! How tenderly we ought to regard
these gentle victims of those modest household virtues which all men
profess to admire, but which few seem desirous to transplant into
their own homes.

Another class, somewhat kindred to this, is composed of women who have
never found their ideal, and have never allowed themselves to invent
for any other man those qualities which would elevate him to their
standard. And these women, again, are closely allied to those who
remain unmarried because they do not, and will not, conform to
conventionalities and social rules. They are clever and odd, and
likely to remain odd, especially if they refuse to men--as they are
most likely to do--that step or two in advance which is the only way
to reconcile them to witty or intellectual women.

These varieties of unmarried women are mainly the victims of natural
peculiarities, or of circumstances they are not responsible for. But
within the last generation the condition of feminine celibacy has
greatly altered. It is a fact that women in this day, considerately,
and in the first glory of their youth, elect themselves to that
condition. Some have imbibed from high culture a high conception of
the value of life, and of what they ought to do with their lives; and
they will not waste the days of their youth in looking for a husband
in order to begin their work. Others have strong individuality, and
refuse to give up their time into another's keeping. The force of
character displayed by such resolutions naturally leads to celibacy.
No one but a very weak man would be attracted by women of such vital
purpose, and weak men would not be tolerated by such strong women.

The wise and the thoughtful may well give such voluntary old maids the
full credit of their purpose, for the generality will not believe in
resolutions so much above their own consciences and intelligence. They
will still sneer at their condition, and refuse to admit that it is of
choice. They will throw at them that wearisome old fable of the fox
and the grapes, when they might much more correctly quote Sappho's
song of the ripe apples left on the topmost branches of the
apple-trees: "Not because they were forgotten of the gatherers, but
because _they were out of their reach_."

In accord with the fresh development, we are told that the number of
unmarried women in the country is steadily on the increase. But this
increase will not be ranged among the silly, the weak, or the cruel of
the sex. It will come from that class of women whose eyes have been
opened by the spread of education and refinement; women not afraid to
work for themselves, and who indeed have thoughtfully concluded that
their own efforts and their own company will be far better for them
than the help and company of any man not perfectly in sympathy with
them, or their inferior either in moral or mental calibre. For it is
not always a duty to marry; but it is always a duty to live up to our
highest conception of what is right and noble and elevating.

But from whatever cause the women of the present and future
generations remain unmarried, they will have no need to dread the
condition, as unmarried women of the previous generations have had
good cause to do. Every year finds them more independent. They are
constantly invading fresh trades, and stepping up into more important
positions. They live in pretty chambers; they dress charmingly; they
have a bank account; they go to the opera and the theatres in their
own protection; and instead of being the humble poor relations of
married sisters and brothers, they are now their equals, their
patrons, and their honored guests. Besides which, old maids have begun
to write novels; and in them they have given us such exquisite
portraits of their order--women so rich in every womanly grace--hat we
are almost compelled to believe the unmarried women in our midst to be
the salt of the community.

At any rate, we are beginning to shift the blame and the obloquy of
the position to the old bachelors, where it rightly belongs; and this
is at least a move in the just and proper direction. For old bachelors
have no excuse whatever for their condition. If we omit the natural
and necessary exceptions, which are few enough, then pure selfishness
and cowardice must account for every other case. Their despised
old-bachelorhood is all their own fault. They have always had the
tremendous privilege of asking for what they wanted; and half the
battle was in that privilege. Men don't have wives because they don't
ask for them; and they don't ask for them because they don't want
them; and in this condition lie their shame and their degradation, and
the well-deserved scorn with which the married part of both sexes
regard them.

Men are also much more contemptible and useless in their celibacy than
are women. An old maid can generally make herself of service to some
one. If she is rich, she attaches herself to church work, or to art,
or to the children of brothers and sisters. Or she travels all over
the world, and writes a book about her adventures. If she is poor, she
works hard and saves money; and thus becomes an object of interest and
respect in her own set. Or she is nurse and helper for all that need
her help in her village, or her church, or her family. At any rate,
she never descends to such depths of ennui and selfishness as do the
old bachelors who loll about on the club sofas, or who dawdle
discontentedly at afternoon teas. An old maid may be troublesome in
church business, or particular in household affairs; but it takes an
old bachelor to quarrel with waiters and grumble every one insane
about his dinner menu. An old maid may gossip, but she will not bore
every one to death about her dyspepsia; and if she has to starve
others, we may be very certain she would never fall under that tyranny
of valets and janitors which are the "sling and arrows" of wealthy,
selfish old bachelors.

On the whole, then, the unmarried woman is becoming every year more
self-reliant, and more respectable and respected, and the unmarried
man more effeminate and contemptible. We look for a day, not far off,
when a man will have to become a member of some religious order if he
wishes a reputable excuse for his celibacy; and even in secular life
it would not be a bad idea to clothe bachelors after forty years of
age in a certain uniform. They might also after that age be advised to
have their own clubs and recreations; for their assumption of equality
with those of their sex who have done their duty as men and citizens
is a piece of presumption that married men ought to resent. Men who
marry are the honorable progenitors of the future; and their
self-denying, busy lives not only bless this generation, but prepare
for the next one. The old bachelor is merely a human figure, without
duties and without hopes. Nationally and socially, domestically and
personally, he is a spoon with nothing in it!



The American Girl


One of the most interesting, piquant, and picturesque of all types of
feminine humanity is the American girl,--not the hothouse variety,
reared for the adornment of luxury, but the every-day, every-where
girls that throng the roads leading to the public schools and the
normal schools, and who, even, in a higher state of culture fill the
halls of learned colleges with a wondrous charm and brightness,--girls
who have an aim in life, a mission to fulfil, a home to order, who
know the worth of money, who are not ashamed to earn it, and who
manage out of limited means to compass all their desires for pretty
dresses and summer vacations, and even their pet dream of an ocean
voyage and a sight of the Old World.

Physically, these girls enjoy life at its highest point. Look at their
flushed cheeks and bright, fearless eyes, and watch their light,
swift, even steps. They have no complaint to make of the heat, or the
sunshine, or the frost; they have not yet heard of the east wind. Rain
does not make them cross; and as for the snow, it throws them into a
delicious excitement; while the wind blowing their dresses about them
in colored clouds only makes them the more eager to try their strength
against it.

That these girls so physically lovely should have the proper mental
training is a point of the gravest personal and national importance.
And it is the glory of our age that this necessity has been nobly met.
For the American girl, "Wisdom has builded her house and hewn out her
Seven Pillars;" and as she points to the lofty entrance she cries to
all alike, "Go up; the door is open!" If the girls of fifty years ago
could have known the privileges of our era how would they have
marvelled and rejoiced and desired "to see their day."

But manifold as her privileges are, the American girl generally knows
how to use them. She proves daily that the parable of the ten talents
did not refer to men only. Indeed, the fault girls are most likely to
fall into is the belief that they each and all possess every one of
the talents. In reality this is so seldom the case that it is
impossible to educate all girls after one pattern; and it is therefore
a grand thing for a girl to know just what she can and cannot do. For
if she have only five talents there is no advantage to be gained by
creating fictitious ones, since the noblest education is that which
looks to the development of the natural abilities, whether they be few
or many, fashionable or unfashionable.

Ask the majority of people "What is education?" and they will be apt
to answer "The improvement of the mind." But this answer does not take
us one step beyond the starting-point. Probably the best and most
generally useful rule for a girl is a deliberate and conscientious
inquiry into her own nature and inclinations as to what she wants to
do with her education. When she has faithfully answered the inquiry
she is ready to prepare herself for this end. For it is neither
necessary nor yet possible that every girl should know everything.
Besides which, the growth of individuality has made special knowledge
a thing of great value, and on all occasions of importance we are apt
to defer to it. If we cross the Atlantic we look for a captain who has
a special knowledge of its stormy ways. If we are really ill we go to
a specialist on our ailment, no matter what "pathy" we prefer. Special
knowledge has a prima facie worth, and without inquiry into a subject
we are inclined to consider specialists on the subject better informed
than those who have not this qualification. Hence the importance of
cultivating some one talent to such perfection as will enable a girl,
if need be, to turn it into money.

There is another point in the preparation of the American girl for the
duties of life which is often undervalued, or even quite ignored; it
is the little remembered fact that all our moral and intellectual
qualities are very dependent for their value on our surroundings. The
old Quakers used to lay great stress upon being "in one's right
place." When the right person is in the right place there is sure to
be a success in life; failure in this respect is almost certain
misfortune; a fine accountant before the mass, a fine lady in the
wilderness, are out of their places, and have lost their opportunity.
And so educational accomplishments which would bring wealth and honor
in a great city may be detrimental to happiness and a drag on duty in
an isolated position.

Hence the importance of a girl finding out first of all what she wants
to do with her education. For in this day she is by no means cramped
in her choice; the most desirable occupations are open to her; she may
select from the whole world her arena, and from the fullness thereof
her reward. But if her object be a more narrow and conventional one,
if all she wishes is to be loved and popular in her own small
community, then--if she is wise--she will cultivate only such a happy
arrangement of graceful, usual accomplishments as prevail among her
class and friends. For a very clever woman cannot be at home with very
many people. She is too large for the regular grooves of society; she
does not fit into any of its small aims and enjoyments; and though
she may have the kindest heart, it is her singularities only that will
be taken notice of. If, then, popularity be a girl's desire, she must
not obviously cultivate herself, must not lift herself above her
surroundings, nor lift her aspirations higher than the aims which all
humanity have in common. And it is a very good thing for humanity that
so many nice girls are content and happy with such a life object; for
the social and domestic graces are those which touch existence the
closest, which sweeten its bitter griefs and brighten its dreariest
hours.

It would be foolish to assert that the American girl is without
faults. Physically and mentally, she may stand on her merits with any
women in the world; morally, she has the shortcomings that are the
shadows of her excellences. Principally she is accused of a want of
reverence, and setting aside for the present her faults as a daughter,
it may be admitted that in general she has little of this quality. But
it is largely the consequence of her environments. Reverence is the
virtue of ignorance; and the American girl has no toleration for
ignorance. She is inquisitive, speculative, and inclined to rely on
her own investigations; while the spirit of reverence demands, as its
very atmosphere, trust and obedience. It is therefore more just to say
that she is so alert and eager herself that when she meets old men and
women who have learned nothing from their last fifty years of life,
and who therefore can teach her nothing, she does not feel any impulse
to offer reverence to mere years. But if gray hairs be honorable,
either for matured wisdom, extensive information, or practical piety,
she is generally inclined to give that best of all homage, the
reverence which springs from knowledge and affection, and which is a
much better thing than the mere forms of respect traditionally offered
to old age.

It is also said that the American girl is a very vain girl, fond of
parading her beauty, freedom, and influence. But vanity is not a bad
quality, if it does not run to excess. It is the ounce of leaven in a
girl's character, and does a deal of good work for which it seldom
gets any credit. For a great deed a great motive is necessary; but
how numberless are the small social and domestic kindnesses for which
vanity is a sufficient force, and which would be neglected or ill-done
without its influence! As long as a girl's vanity does not derive its
inspiration from self-love there is no necessity for her to wear
sackcloth to humiliate it. We have all known women without vanity, and
found them unpleasant people to know.

There is one fault of the American girl which is especially her fault,
and which ought not to be encouraged or palliated although it is
essentially the shadow of some of her greatest excellences--the fault
of being in too great a hurry at all the turning-points of her life.
When she is in the nursery she aches to go to school. When she is a
schoolgirl, she is impatient to put on long dresses and become a young
lady. As soon as this fact is accomplished, she feels there is not a
moment to lose in choosing either a career or a husband. She is always
in a hurry about the future, and so frequently takes the wrong turn at
the great events of life. She leaves school too soon; she leaves home
too soon; she does everything at a rush, and does not do it as well as
if she "made haste slowly."

But what a future lies before these charmingly brilliant American
girls, if they are able to take the fullest possession of it! The
great obstacle in this achievement is the apparently wholesome opinion
that education is sufficient. But the very best education will fall
short of its privileges if it be not accompanied with that moral
training which we call discipline. Discipline is self-denial in all
its highest forms; it teaches the excellent mean between license and
repression; without it a girl may have plenitude of knowledge, and a
lamentable want of sweetness; so that one only second rate on her
intellectual side may be a thousand times more lovable than one who is
first rate on her intellectual side, but lacks that fine flavor of
character which comes from the expansion of noble inward forces,
disciplined and directed to good ends.

Every one understands that no character, however intellectual, is
worth anything that is not morally healthy; but morality in a woman
is not in itself sufficient. She must have in addition all those
charming virtues included in that word of many lights and shades and
subtle meanings--womanliness; that word which signifies such a variety
of things, but never anything but what is sweet and tender and
gracious and beautiful.



Dangerous Letter-Writing


Young women are proverbially fond of playing with edged tools, and of
all such dangerous playthings a habit of promiscuous, careless
letter-writing is the worst; for in most cases the danger is not
obvious at the time, and the writer may even have forgotten her
imprudence when she has to meet the consequences. The romance, the
gush, the having nothing particular to do, the almost insane egotism
which makes some young women long to exploit their own hearts, caused
poor Madaline Smith to write those foolish letters to a man whose
every good quality she had to invent, and who afterwards tortured her
with these very letters into a crime which made her stand for months
within the shadow of the gallows. She had not patience to await until
the real lover came, and then when he did come these fatal letters
stood between her and her happiness, and her fair name.

The very instinct which leads to constant letter-writing, goes with a
constitutional want of caution, and therefore indicates a necessity
for intelligent self-restraint. If young women, when writing letters,
would only project themselves into the future and imagine a time when
they might be confronted with the lines which they have just penned,
many an ill-advised missive would go into the fire instead of into the
mail bag. Indeed, if letters at all doubtful in spirit or intent were
laid aside until "next morning" many a wrong would be left undone,
many a friendship would be preserved unbroken, and many an imprudence
be postponed and so uncommitted. If indeed a woman could say
truthfully, "This letter is my letter, and if mischief comes of it I
alone have the penalty to pay," expansive correspondence might be less
dangerous. But no one can thus limit folly or sin, and its consequence
may even touch those who were not even aware of the writing of the
letter.

The abuse of letter-writing is one of the greatest trials of the
epoch. Distance, which used to be a protection, is now done away with.
Every one cries out, and insists upon your listening. They write
events while they are only happening. People unknown intrude upon your
time and take possession of it. Enmities and friendships thousands of
miles away scold or caress; one is exacting, another angry, a third
lays upon your conscience obligations which he has invented. For a
mere nothing--a yes, or a no--idle, gushing people fire off continual
notes and insist upon answers. Now this kind of letter-writing exists
only because postage is cheap; if such correspondents had to pay
twenty-five cents for giving their opinions, they would not give them
at all. It is an impertinence also, for though we may like persons
well enough to receive from them a visit, or even to return it, it is
a very different thing to be called upon to retire ourselves with pen
and ink and note paper, and give away time and interest which we are
not inclined to give.

Plenty of girls write very clever letters,--letters that are an echo
of their own circle, full of a sweet audacity and an innocent swagger
of knowledge of the world and of the human heart that is very
engaging. And the temptation to write such letters is very great,
especially as both the writer and her friends are apt to imagine them
evidence of a large amount of genius. Indeed, some who have a
specially bright pen, or else a specially large circle of admirers and
flatterers, arrive speedily at the conviction that they can just as
easily write a book. So without reason and without results, they get
themselves heart-burning and heart-ache and disappointment. For there
is absolutely no kindred whatever between this graceful, piquant
eloquence _du billet_ and the fancy, observation, and experience
necessary to successful novel writing.

If a girl really has a vein of true sentiment, she ought not at this
day to give it away in letter-writing. There is a safer and more
profitable way to use it; she can now take it to market and sell it
for pudding, for the magazines and ladies' newspapers. Sentiment and
fancy have a commercial value; and instead of sealing them up in a
two-cent envelope for an acquaintance,--who is likely very
unappreciative, and who perhaps tosses them into the fire with a
contemptuous adjective,--she might send them to some long-suffering
editor. These men know the depths of the girlish heart in this
respect, and they have a patience in searching for the gold among the
dross that is not generally believed in. Therefore, if a girl must
write, let her send her emotions to the newspapers; an editor is a far
more prudent confidant than her very dearest friend.

Really, the day for letter-writing is past. As an art it is dead, as
convenience it remains; but it has lost all sentiment. Even Madame de
Sévigné could not be charming on a postal card, and for genuine
information the general idea is to put it into twenty words and send
it by telegraph. So, then, it is a good thing for young women to get
over, as soon as possible, the tendency of their years to sentimental
letter-writing. They will thus save themselves many a heart-ache in
the present and many a fear for the future. For if they do not write
letters they cannot feel hurt because they are not answered. They
cannot worry because they have said something imprudent. They will not
make promises, in the exaltation of composition, which they will
either break or hate to keep when they are in their sober senses. They
will also preserve their friendships longer, for they will not deprive
them altogether of that charm which leaves something to the
imagination.

Of course there are yet such things as absolutely necessary letters;
and these, in their way, ought to be made as perfect as possible.
Fortunately, perfection in this respect is easily attainable, its
essentials being evident to all as soon as they are stated. First, a
letter which demands or deserves the attention of an answer, ought to
have it as promptly as if we were paying a bill. Second, we ought to
write distinctly, for bad handwriting represents a very dogged,
self-asserting temper,--one, too, which is unfair, because if we put
forward our criticisms and angularities in a personal meeting, they
can be returned in kind, but to send a letter that is almost
unintelligible admits of no reprisal but an answer in some equally
provoking scrawl. Even if the writing is only careless, and may be
read with a little trouble, we have no right to impose that extra
trouble. Third, it is a good thing to write short letters. The cases
in which people have written long letters, and not been sorry for
having done so, are doubtless very rare. No one will ever be worse for
just saying plainly what she has to say and then signing her name to
it plainly and in full. For a name half signed is not only a
vulgarity, it indicates a character unfinished, uncertain, and
hesitating.

There is a kind of correspondence which is a special development of
our special civilization, and which it is to be hoped will be
carefully avoided by the young woman of the future,--that is, the
writing of letters begging autographs. A woman who does this thing has
a passion which she ought immediately to arrest and compel to give an
account of itself.

If she did so, she would quickly discover that it is a mean passion,
masquerading in a character it has no right to, and no sympathy with.
An autograph beggar is a natural development, though not a very
creditable one. She doubtless began her career of accumulation with
collecting birds' eggs in the country, where they could be got for
nothing. Butterflies were probably her next ambition. Then perhaps
that mysterious craze for postage stamps followed. After such a
training, the mania for autographs would come as a matter of course.
And the sole and whole motive of the collecting business is nothing at
all but the vulgar love of possessing, and especially of possessing
what costs nothing.

It is amusing and provoking to notice the air of complaisance with
which some of these begging epistles are suffused. The writers seem
incapable of conceiving statesmen, artists, and authors who will not
be as pleased to give as they are to ask. But in reality, a man or a
woman, however distinguished, who feels a request for his or her
autograph to be a compliment, is soaked in self-conceit, and the large
majority certainly do look upon such requests as simply impertinent
begging letters. The request, indeed, carries an affront with it, no
matter how civilly it may be worded, as it is not that particular
autograph that is wanted, for the beggars generally prefix as an
excuse the bare-faced fact that they have already begged hundreds.
Certainly no self-respecting woman will care to put herself among the
host of these contemptible seekers after a scrap of paper.

Speaking broadly, a woman's character may be in many respects fairly
gauged by her habits on the subject of letter-writing; as fairly,
indeed, as we may gauge a man's by his methods of dealing with money.
If we know how a man gets money, how he spends it, how he lends it,
borrows it, or saves it, we have a perfect measurement for his temper
and capabilities. And if we know how a woman deals with her letters,
how many she gets, how many she sends, how long or how short they are,
if they are sprawly and untidy, or neat and cleanly, and how they are
signed and sealed, then we can judge her nature very fairly, for she
has written herself down in an open book, and all who wish may read
her.



Flirts and Flirtation


Flirting is the product of a highly civilized state of society.
People in savage, or even illiterate life have no conception of
its delicate and indefinable diplomacy. A savage sees a woman "that
pleases him well," pays the necessary price for her, and is done with
the affair. Jane in the kitchen and John in the field look and
love, tell each other the reason why, and get married. "Keeping
company," which is their nearest approach to flirtation, has a
definite and well-understood end in view, the approaches to which are
unequivocal and admit of no other translation.

Flirts are of many kinds. There is the quiet, "still-water" flirt, who
leads her captives by tender little sighs and pretty, humble,
beseeching ways; who hangs on every word a man says, asks his advice,
his advice only, because it is so much better than any one else's.
That is her form of the art, and a very effective one it is.

Again, the flirt is demonstrative and daring. She tempts, dazzles,
tantalizes her victims by the very boldness with which she approaches
that narrow but deep Rubicon dividing flirting from indiscretion. But
she seldom crosses it; up to a certain point she advances without
hesitation, but at once there is a dead halt, and the flirtee finds
that he has been taken a fool's journey.

There are sentimental flirts, sly little pusses, full of sweet
confidences and small secrets, and who delight in asking the most
suggestive and seductive questions. "Does Willy really believe in love
marriages?" or, "Is it better to have loved and lost than never to
have loved at all?" etc.

Intellectual flirts hover about young poets and writers, or haunt
studios and libraries, and doubtless are delightfully distracting to
the young ideas shooting in those places.

Everybody knows a variety of the religious flirt,--those demure lilies
of the ecclesiastical garden, that grow in the pleasant paths where
pious young rectors and eligible saints walk. Perhaps, as their form
of flirting takes the shape of votive offerings, district visiting,
and choir singing, their perpetual gush of sentiment and hero-worship
is advantageous, on the principle that it is an ill wind that blows
nobody good.

All of these female varieties have their counterparts among male
flirts, and besides, there are some masculine types flagrantly and
universally common. Such is the bold, handsome bird of prey, who
advances just far enough to raise expectation and then suddenly
retires. Or the men who are always _insinuating_, but who never make
an honest declaration; who raise vague hopes with admirable skill and
poetic backgrounds, and keep women madly and hopefully in love with
them by looks and gestures they never give an interpretation to. When
they are tired they retire slowly, without quarrel, without
explanation; they simply allow their implied promises to die of
neglect.

Then there is the prudent flirt, who trifles only with married women;
dangles after those subtle, handsome creatures who affect blighted
lives and uncomfortable husbands, and who, having married for
convenience, are flirting for love. Such women are safe entertainment
for the cowardly male flirt, who fears a flirtation that leads
perchance to matrimony, but who has no fears about his liability to
commit bigamy. There are "fatherly" male flirts, and "brotherly" and
"friendly" flirts, but the title is nothing but an agreed-upon centre
of operations.

Yet it is difficult to imagine how, in a polished state of society,
flirting could be done without. Some sort of preliminary examination
into tastes, disposition, and acquirements is necessary before
matrimony, and a woman cannot carry a list of her desirable qualities,
nor a man advertise his temper and his income. The trouble is that no
definite line can be drawn, no scale of moral values can decide where
flirting ends and serious attentions begin; and society never agrees
as to what is innocent and what reprehensible.

There are ill-natured people who call every bright, merry girl that is
a favorite with gentlemen, that talks, sings, and dances well, a
"terrible flirt;" who admit nothing as propriety but what is
conventionally correct and insipid. The media of flirting are indeed
endless; a clever woman can find in simply _listening_ a method of
conveying the most delicate flattery and covert admiration. Indeed,
flirting in its highest quality is an art requiring the greatest
amount of tact and skill, and women who would flirt and be blameless,
no matter how vast their materials, must follow Opie's plan and "mix
them with brains."

It used to be a maxim that no gentleman could be refused by a lady,
because he would never presume beyond the line of her encouragement;
therefore it is to be presumed, on this rule, no lady advances further
than she is willing to ratify. But such a state of society would be
very stupid and formal, and we should miss a very piquant flavor in
life, which even very good and great people have not been able to
resist.

Upon this rule we must convict Queen Elizabeth as an arrant flirt, and
"no lady;" we should be compelled to shake our heads at the fair
Thrale and the great Dr. Johnson, at naughty Horace Walpole and Mrs.
Hannah More, and to even look with suspicion on George Whitefield and
"good Lady Huntingdon."

No, in polished society flirting in a moderate form is an amusement,
and an investigation so eminently suited to the present condition of
the sexes that a much better one could be better spared. In one case
only does it admit of no extenuating circumstances,--that of the
married flirt of both sexes.

A flirt may not indeed be an altogether lovely character, even with
all her alluring faults; but she is something a great deal nicer than
a prude. All men prefer a woman who trusts them, or gayly challenges
them to a combat, in which she proposes their capture, to her who
affects horror at masculine tastes and ways, and is always expecting
them to do some improper, or say some dreadful, thing. Depend upon it,
if all the flirts were turned into prudes, society would have gone
further to fare worse.



On Falling in Love

  "Something there is moves me to love; and I
  Do know I love, but know not how, or why."


There is in love no "wherefore;" and we scarcely expect it. The
working-world around must indeed give us an account of their actions,
but lovers are not worth much in the way of rendering a reason; for
half the charm of love-making lies in the defiance of everything that
is reasonable, in asserting the incredible, and in believing the
impossible. And surely we may afford ourselves this little bit of
glamour in an age judging everything by the unconditional and the
positive; we may make little escapades into love-land, when all the
old wonder-lands, from the equator to the pole, are being mapped out,
and dotted over with railway depots, and ports of entry.

Falling in love is an eminently impractical piece of business, and yet
Nature--who is no blunderer--generally introduces the boy and girl
into active adult life by this very door. In the depths of this
delicious foolishness the boyish heart grows to the measure of
manhood; bats and boats and "fellows" are forever deposed, and lovely
woman reigns in their stead. To boys, first love is, perhaps, more of
an event than to girls, for the latter have become familiar with the
routine of love-making long before they are seriously in love. They
sing about it in connection with flowers and angels and the moon; they
read Moore and Tennyson; they have perhaps been the confidants of
elder sisters. They are waiting for their lover, and even inclined to
be critical; but the first love of a boy is generally a surprise--he
is taken unawares, and surrenders at discretion.

Perhaps it is a good stimulant to faith in general, that in the very
outset of it we should believe in such an unreasonable and wonderful
thing as first love. Tertullian held some portions of his faith simply
"because they were impossible." It is no bad thing for a man to begin
life with a grand passion,--to imagine that no one ever loved before
him, and that no one who comes after him will ever love to the same
degree that he does.

This absolute passion, however, is not nearly so common as it might
well be; and Rochefoucauld was not far wrong when he compared it to
the ghosts that every one talks about, but very few see. It generally
arises out of extreme conditions of circumstances or feelings; its
food is contradiction and despair. It is doubtful if Romeo and Juliet
would have cared much for each other if the Montagues and Capulets had
been friends and allies, and the marriage of their children a
necessary State arrangement; and Byron is supported by all reasonable
evidence when he doubtfully inquires:

  "If Laura, think you, had been Petrarch's wife,
  Would he have written sonnets all his life?"

This excessive passion does not thrive well either in a high state of
civilization. "King Cophetua and the Beggar-maid" is the ballad of an
age when love really "ruled the court, the camp, the grove." The
nineteenth century is not such an age. At the very best, King
Cophetua would now do pretty much as the judge did with regard to Maud
Muller. Still no one durst say that even in such a case it was not
better to have loved and relinquished than never to have loved at
all.

  "Better for all that some sweet hope lies
  Deeply buried from human eyes."

How can love be the be-all and the end-all of life with us, when
steam-looms and litigation, railway shares and big bonanzas, cotton
and corn, literature and art, politics and dry goods, and a thousand
other interests share our affections and attentions? It is impossible
that our life should be the mere machinery of a love plot; it is
rather a drama in which love is simply one of the _dramatis personæ_.

This fact is well understood, even if not acknowledged in words; the
sighs and the fevers, the hoarding of flowers and gloves, the broken
hearts and shattered lives, all for the sake of one sweet face, still
exist in literature, but not much in life. Lovers of to-day are more
given to considering how to make housekeeping as easy as matrimony
than to writing sonnets to their mistresses' eyebrows. The very
devotion of ancient times would now be tedious, its long protestations
a bore, and we lovers of the nineteenth century would be very apt to
yawn in the very face of a sixteenth-century Cupid. Let the modern
lover try one of Amadis' long speeches to his lady, and she would
likely answer, "Don't be tiresome, Jack; let us go to Thomas' and hear
the music and eat an ice-cream."

Is love, then, in a state of decay? By no means--it has merely
accommodated itself to the spirit of the age; and this spirit demands
that the lives of men shall be more affected by Hymen than by Cupid.
Lovers interest society now solely as possible husbands and wives,
fathers and mothers of the republic. Lord Lytton points out this fact
as forcibly exemplified in our national dramas. Every one feels the
love scenes in a play, the sentimental dialogues of the lovers,
fatiguing; but a matrimonial quarrel excites the whole audience, and
it sheds its pleasantest tears over their reconciliation. For few
persons in any audience ever have made, or ever will make, love as
poets do; but the majority have had, or will have, quarrels and
reconciliations with their wives.

"Men have died from time to time, and worms have eaten them--but not
for love;" and if this was true of Shakespeare's times, it is doubly
so of ours. If there ever was any merit in dying for love, we fail to
see it; occasionally a man will wildly admit that he is making a fool
of himself for this or that woman, but though we may pity him, we
don't respect him for such a course. Women, still more rarely than
men, "make fools of themselves" on this score; and in spite of all
poets assert to the contrary, they are eminently reasonable, and their
affections bear transplanting.

In other respects we quite ignore the inflation of old love terms.
"Our fate," "our destiny," etc., resolve themselves into the simplest
and most natural of events; a chat on a rainy afternoon, a walk home
in the moonlight, mere contiguity for a season, are the agents which
often decide our love affairs. And yet, below all this, lies that
inexplicable something which seems to place this bit of our lives
beyond our wisest thoughts. We can't fall in love to order, and all
our reasoning on the subject resolves itself into a conviction that
under certain inexplicable conditions, "it is possible for anybody to
fall in love with anybody else."

Perhaps this is a part of what Artemus Ward calls the "cussedness" of
things in general; but at any rate we must admit that if "like
attracts like," it attracts unlike too. The scholar marries the
foolish beauty; the beauty marries an ugly man, and admires him.
Poverty intensifies itself by marrying poverty; plenty grows plethoric
by marrying wealth. But how far love is to blame for these strange
attractions, who can tell? Probably a great deal that passes for love
is only reflected self-love, the passion to acquire what is generally
admired or desired. Thus beautiful women are often married as the most
decorous way of gratifying male vanity. A pleasant anecdote, as the
Scotch say, _anent_ this view, is told of the Duc de Guise, who after
a long courtship prevailed on a celebrated beauty to grant him her
hand. The lady observing him very restless, asked what ailed him.
"Ah, madame," answered the lover, "I ought to have been off long ago
to communicate my good fortune to all my friends."

But the motives and influences that go to make up so highly complex an
emotion as love are beyond even indication, though the subject has
been a tempting one to most philosophical writers. Even Comte descends
from the positive and unconditional to deify the charmingly erratic
feminine principle; Michelet, after forty volumes of history, rests
and restores himself by penning a book on love; the pale, religious
Pascal, terrified at the vastness of his own questions, comforts
himself by an analysis of the same passion; and Herbert Spencer has
gone _con amore_ into the same subject. But love laughs at philosophy,
and delights in making fools of the wise for its sake.

It is easy to construct a theory, but the first touch of a white hand
may demolish it; easy to make resolutions, but the first glance of a
pair of bright eyes may send them packing. It is easy for men to be
philosophers, when they are not lovers; but when once they fall in
love there is no distinction then between the fool and the wise man.
However, we can be thankful that love no longer demands such outward
and visible tokens of slavery as she used to. In this day lovers
address their mistresses as women--not goddesses. Indeed we should say
now of men who serve women on their knees, "_When they get up, they go
away_."



Engaged To Be Married

  "Woo'd and married and a'.
    Woo'd and married and a':
  An' is na she very weel aff
    That is woo'd and married and a'?"


It is a beautiful fancy that marriages are ordained in heaven; it is a
practical fact that they are made on earth; and that what we call "our
destiny," or "our fate," is generally the result of favorable
opportunities, sympathetic circumstances, or even pleasant contiguity
for a season. Hence we always expect after the summer vacation to hear
of a number of "engagements." The news is perennially interesting; we
may have seen the parties a thousand times, but their first appearance
in their new character excites all our curiosity.

Generally the woman expands and beautifies, rises with the occasion,
and puts on new beauty with the confidence of an augmenting wardrobe
and an assured position. There is nothing ridiculous in her attitude;
her wedding trousseau and marriage presents keep her in a delightful
state of triumphant satisfaction, and if she has "done well unto
herself," she feels entitled to the gratitude of her family and the
envy of all her female acquaintance.

The case is not so socially pleasant for her accomplice; it is always
an awkward thing for a man to announce his engagement. His married
friends ask him prosaic questions, and "wish him joy,"--a compliment
which of itself implies a doubt; or they tell him he is going to do a
wise thing, and treat him in the interval as if he was naturally in a
state of semi-lunacy. His bachelor friends receive the news either
with a fit of laughter, an expressive, long-drawn whistle, or at best
with the assurance that they "consider marriage a good thing, though
they are not able to carry out their principles." But he is soon aware
that they regard him virtually as a deserter; they make parties
without including him; he drops out of their consultations; he has
lost his caste among the order of young men, and has not been
admitted among the husbands of the community; he hangs between two
states; is not of _that_, nor yet quite of _this_.

Naturally enough, there are a variety of opinions on the subject of
prolonging or cutting as short as possible this preliminary stage.
Those who regard marriage as a kind of commerce, whose clearing house
is St. Thomas's or St. Bartholomew's, will, of course, prefer to
clinch the contemplated arrangement as soon as possible. Their
business is intelligible; there is "no nonsense about them;" and, upon
the whole, the sooner they get to ordering dinner and paying taxes the
better. Many of us have sat waiting in a dentist's room with a
tooth-ache similar to that which made Burns

  "Cast the wee stools owre the meikle;"

and some of us have watched for an editor's decision with feelings
which would gladly have annihilated the interval.

But it is not alone the prosaic and the impatient who are averse to a
long engagement: the methodical, whose arrangements it tumbles upside
down; the busy, whose time it appropriates; the selfish, who are
compelled during it to make continual small sacrifices; the shy, who
feel as if all the other relations of life had retired into the
background in order to exhibit them as "engaged men;" the greedy, who
look upon the expected love-offerings as so much tribute money,--these
and many other varieties of lovers would gladly simplify matrimony by
reducing its preliminaries to a question and a ceremony. Yet if Love
is to have anything like the place in life that it has in poetry; if
we really believe that marriage ought to be founded on sympathy of
tastes and principles; if we have any faith in that mighty ruler of
hearts and lives, a genuine love affair,--we shall not wish to dim the
glory of marriage by denying it this sojourn in a veritable enchanted
land; for in its atmosphere many fine feelings blossom that never
would have birth at all if the niceties of courtship were superseded
by the levelling rapidity of marriage. If people are _really_ in love
they gain more than they lose by a reasonable delay. There is time for
the reading and writing of love-letters, one of the sweetest
experiences of life; the tongue and pen get familiar with affectionate
and noble sentiments; indeed I doubt if there is any finer school for
married life than a full course of love-letters. But if the marriage
follow immediately on the engagement, all love-letters and all
love-making must necessarily have a flavor of furniture and dress, and
of "considerations." I admit that love-making is an unreasonable and
impractical piece of business; but in this lies all its charm. It
delights in asserting the incredible and believing the impossible.
But, after all, it is in the depths of this delicious foolishness that
the heart attains its noblest growth. Life may have many grander hopes
and calmer joys in store,--

  "But there's nothing half so sweet in life
  As Love's young dream."

Therefore we ought to look with complaisance, if not with approbation,
on young people serenely passing through this phase of their
existence; but the fact is, we are apt to regard it as a little trial.
Lovers are so happy and self-satisfied that they do not understand
why everybody else is not in the same supreme condition. If the house
is ever so small, they expect a clear room to themselves.

Yet such an engagement, of reasonable length, is to be advised
wherever young people are tender and constant in nature, and really in
love with each other. I would only ask them to be as little
demonstrative in public as possible, and to carry their happiness
meekly, for, in any case, they will make large demands on the love,
patience, and toleration of their friends. But perhaps one of the
greatest advantages of a prolonged engagement is the security it
brings against a _mésalliance_. Now, to a man a _mésalliance_ is the
heaviest weight he can carry through life; but to a woman it is simply
destruction.

The best women have an instinctive wish to marry a man superior to
themselves in some way or other; for their honor is in their husbands,
and their status in society is determined by his. A woman who, for a
passing fancy, marries a man in any way her inferior wrongs herself,
her family, and her whole life; for the "grossness of his nature"
will most probably drag her to his level. Now and then a woman of
great force of character may lift her husband upward, but she accepts
such a labor at the peril of her own higher life. Should she find it
equally impossible to lift him to her level or to sink to his, what
remains? Life-long regrets, bitter shame and self-reproach, or a
forcible setting of herself free. But the latter, like all severe
remedies, carries desperation instead of hope, with it. Never can she
quite regain her maiden place; an _aura_ of a doubtful kind fetters
and influences her in every effort or relation of her future life.

In the early glamour of a love affair, women do not see these things,
but fathers and mothers do; they know that "the world is _not_ well
lost for love," and they have a right to protest against such folly.
In an imprudent love affair, every day is so much gained; therefore
when this foolishness is bound up in the heart of a youth or a maiden,
the best of all plans is to arrange for time,--as long an engagement
as possible.

But I will suppose that all my unmarried readers have found proper
mates who will stand the test of parental wisdom and a fairly long and
exacting engagement, and that after some happy months they will not
only be "woo'd," but "married and a'." Now begins their real life, and
for the woman the first step is _renunciation_. She must give up with
a good grace the exaggeration and romance of love-making, and accept
in its place that far better tenderness which is the repose of
passion, and which springs from the tranquil depths of a man's best
nature.

The warmest-hearted and most unselfish women soon learn to accept
quiet trust and the loyalty of a loving life as the calmest and
happiest condition of marriage; and the men who are sensible enough to
rely on the good sense of such wives sail round the gushing adorers,
both for true affection and comfortable tranquillity.

Just let a young wife remember that her husband necessarily is under a
certain amount of bondage all day; that his interests compel him to
look pleasant under all circumstances to offend none, to say no hasty
word, and she will see that when he reaches his own fireside he wants
most of all to have this strain removed to be at ease; but this he
cannot be if he is continually afraid of wounding his wife's
sensibilities by forgetting some outward and visible token of his
affection for her. Besides, she pays him but a poor compliment in
refusing to believe what he does not continually assert; and by
fretting for what it is unreasonable to desire she deeply wrongs
herself, for--

  "A woman moved is like a fountain troubled,
  Muddy, ill-seeming, thick, bereft of beauty."



Shall our Daughters have Dowries?


Those who occupy themselves reading that writing on the wall which we
call "signs of the times" may ponder awhile the question which Mr.
Messinger puts with such plaintive appeal to the parents of this
generation: "Shall our daughters have dowries?" But in the very
commencement of his argument he abandons the case he has voluntarily
taken up, and enters a plea, not for the daughters, but for the young
men who may wish to marry the daughters. Also in urging upon parents
the duty of endowing their daughters he seems to have lost sight of
the fact that "dowry," in its very spirit and intention, does not
propose to care for the husband, but is solely in the interest of the
wife.

He asserts, doubtless with accuracy, that the average income of young
men is $1,100 a year, and he finds in this fact a sufficient reason
for the decrease of marriage among them. It is no reason at all; for a
large and sensible proportion of young men do marry and live happily
and respectably on $1,100 a year, and those who cannot do so are very
clearly portrayed by Mr. Messinger, and very little respected by any
sensible young woman.

But it is not to be believed that they form any preponderating or
influential part of that army of young men who are the to-morrow of
our great republic. Let any reader count, from such young men as are
known to him, the number who would divide their $1,100 as Mr.
Messinger supposes them to do:--

  Dress for self and wife      $600
  Apartments                    400
  Amusements                    100

I venture to say the proportion would be very small indeed.

For the majority of young men know that nothing worth having is
lost in the sharing. They meet in their own circle some modest,
home-making girl whom they love so truly that they can tell her
exactly what their income is, and then they find out that their own
ideas of economy were crude and extravagant compared with the
wondrous ways and means which reveal themselves to a loving woman's
comprehension of the subject. The Oranges, Rutherford, and every
suburb of New York are full of pretty little homes supported
without worry, and with infinite happiness, upon $1,100 a year,
and perhaps, indeed, upon less money.

The difficulty with the class of young men whose case Mr. Messinger
pleads is one deserving of no sympathy. It is a difficulty evoked by
vanity and self-conceit, of which Fashion and Mrs. Grundy are the
bugbears. Why should a young man capable of making only $1,100 a year
expect to marry a girl whose parents are rich enough to guard her
"from every wind of heaven, lest it visit her face too roughly"? "Is
it fair treatment of the expected husband," Mr. Messinger asks, that a
girl "should be habituated to live without work and then be handed
over to her husband with nothing but her clothing and bric-à-brac?"
Yes, it is quite fair treatment. If the husband with his $1,100 a year
elects to marry a girl not habituated to work, he does it of his own
choice: the father of the girl is probably not at all desirous of his
alliance; then why should the father deprive himself of the results of
his own labor and economy to undo the folly and vanity of the young
man's selection? As for the girl, if she has deliberately preferred
her lover to her father, mother, home, and to all the advantages of
wealth, she has the desire of her heart. It may be quite fair that she
should have this desire, but it may be very unfair that her father,
mother, and perhaps her brothers and sisters, should be robbed to make
her desire less self-sacrificing to her. For if the young man with his
poverty is acceptable to both the daughter and her parents, the latter
may be safely trusted to do all that is right in the circumstances.

The most objectionable part of Mr. Messinger's argument is the servile
and mercenary aspect in which it places marriage. "What equality can
exist," he asks, "where one (the man) supplies all the means of
subsistence and performs all the labor?" That a husband should provide
the means of subsistence is the very Magna Charta of honorable
marriage; and nine hundred and ninety-nine men out of a thousand so
accept it. It is the precise point on which all true husbands feel the
most keenly sensitive. They want no other man--no matter what his
relationship or friendship--to support their wives. And under no
circumstances does the husband perform all the labor resulting from a
marriage. That he may be a true man, a father and a citizen, it is
necessary that he have a home; and in the care of the home, in the
bringing-forth and the bringing-up of the family, in the constant
demands upon her love and sympathy, the wife performs a never-ceasing
multitude of duties that tax her heart and her body in every
direction,--a labor of love in comparison with which her husband's
daily routine over his "entries" or his "orders" is a trifling drain
of vitality. For a wife and mother must keep every faculty and feeling
"at attention;" but a clerk over his ledger keeps a dozen faculties
on the premises to do the work of one. And in behalf of all true and
trusted wives I deny in totality the idea that they go to their
husbands with "painful shrinking" for the money necessary to carry on
the mutual home, or that there is in any beloved wife's heart the most
fleeting thought of "dependence." Mr. Messinger does a great and
shameful wrong to the majority of husbands and wives by such an
assertion.

Indeed, this gentleman's experience seems to have been an unusually
sad one, nine out of ten of his friends having died in early middle
age from the undue expenditure of nerve and vital force in their
efforts to provide for their families in what they doubtless
considered a suitable manner; and he evidently thinks that if their
wives had been dowered this result would probably have been averted.
It is extremely improbable. The wife's small income would far more
likely have led to a still more extravagant way of living; for the
genius of the American is to live for to-day and take care for the
morrow when the morrow comes.

In many respects it is the genius of the age. Old forms of thought
and action are in a state of transition. No one can tell what
to-morrow may bring forth. The social conditions which inspired the
fathers of the past to save for their posterity are passing away; and
I speak from knowledge when I assert that they were often conditions
of domestic misery and wrong, and that growing children suffered much
under them. Suppose a father has two daughters and three sons; must he
curtail the daughters in the education and pleasures of their youth,
must he limit the three boys at home and at college, in order to give
a sum of money to some unknown young man who will doubtless vow that
his daughter's heart and person are more than all the world to him? If
she be not more than all the world to him, he has no right to marry
her; and if she be, what can be added to a gift so precious?

The tendency of the time is to dishonor marriage in every way; but
the deepest wrong, the most degrading element that can be introduced,
is to make it dependent upon dowries or any other financial
consideration. We must remember also that in England, where dowry
has been a custom, it was one not particularly affecting those
classes whose daughters are likely to marry clerks upon small
salaries. It was the provision made by landed gentry for their
daughters, and they exacted in return an equally suitable settlement
from the expectant husband. If the father gave a sum of money to
the bride, the bridegroom generally gave the dower-house, with the
furniture, silver, linen, etc., which would make it a proper home for
her widowhood. Many a marriage has been broken off because the
bridegroom would not make such settlements as the father considered
the dower demanded.

Mr. Messinger acknowledges that the cost of living was never so small
as at this day, and that the difficulty in the way of young men
marrying is "purely one of insane imitation and competition." But
there is no necessity for this insane competition; and why provide an
unusual and special remedy for what is purely optional? Nobody compels
the young husband to live as if his income was $11,000 instead of
$1,100. Of his own free will he sacrifices his life to his vanity,
and there is no justice in attempting his relief by dowering his
perhaps equally guilty wife out of the results of another man's
industry and economy.

Dowry is an antiquated provision for daughters, behind the genius of
the age, incompatible with the dignity of American men and the
intelligence and freedom of American women. Besides, there are very
likely to be two, three, four, or more daughters in a house; how could
a man of moderate means save for all of them? And what would become of
the sons? The father who gives his children a loving, sensible mother,
who provides them with a comfortable home, and who educates fully all
their special faculties, and teaches them the cunning in their ten
fingers, dowers his daughters far better than if he gave them money.
He has funded for them a provision that neither a bad husband nor an
evil fate can squander. He has done his full duty, and every good girl
will thankfully so accept it.

As for the young men who could imagine themselves spending, out of
$1,100, $700 upon dress and amusements, neither the world, nor any
sensible woman in it, will be the worse for their celibacy. For if
they take a wife, it will doubtless be some would-be stylish, foolish
virgin, whose soft hands are of no earthly use except as ring-stands
and glove-stretchers. It is such marriages that are failures. It is in
such pretentious homes that love and moderate means cannot live
happily together. It is in such weak hands that Pandora's box shuts,
not on hope, but on despair.

The brave, sensible youth does not fear to face life and all its
obligations on $1,100 a year. With love it is enough to begin with.
Hope, ambition, industry, good fortune, are his sureties for the
future. However well educated he may be, he knows that in his own
class he will find lovely women equally well educated. They may be
teaching, clerking, sewing, but they are his peers. He has no idea of
marrying a young lady accustomed to servants and luxury, and the
question of dower never occurs to him. The good girl who supplements
his industry by her economy, who cheers him with her sympathy, who
shares all his thoughts and feelings, and crowns his life with love
and consolation, has all the dowry he wants. And this is an opinion
founded on a long life of observation,--an opinion that fire cannot
burn out of me.



The Ring Upon the Finger


Rings were probably the first ornaments ever worn, though in the
earliest ages they had a meaning far beyond mere adornment. The
stories of Judah and Tamar, of Pharaoh and Joseph, of Ahasuerus and
Haman, show that as pledges of good faith, as marks of favor, and as
tokens of authority, they were the recognized symbols. The fashion was
an Eastern one, for the Jews were familiar with it before their
sojourn in Egypt; indeed, it may have been one of those primeval
customs which Shem, Ham, and Japhet saved from the wreck of an earlier
world. Certainly the people of Syria and the lords of Palestine and
Tyre used rings in the earliest times; and it is remarkable that they
bore the same emblem which ancient Mexican rings bear,--the
constellation of Pisces. As an ornament, however, the ring is least
important; it is an emblem. The charmed circle has potency and
romance.

Great faith in all ages has been placed in charmed rings. Greeks
and Romans possessed them, and the Scandinavian nations had a
superstitious faith in such amulets; indeed, as chronicles declare,
it is hard to compute how much William was indebted for his
victory over Harold to the influence of the ring he wore, which had
been blessed and hallowed. As curative agencies, rings have also
played a curious part. Until the Georgian era, rings blessed by the
King or Queen on Good Friday were thought to control epilepsy and
other complaints, and something of this secret power is still
acknowledged by the superstitious, who wear around their necks rings
or coins that have been blessed. Rings have also been agencies for
death, as well as for life. In all ages they have been receptacles
for subtle poisons, and thus Hannibal and Demosthenes armed
themselves against an extremity of evil fortune.

In the life of the English Queen Elizabeth, rings had an extraordinary
importance. She was notified of her ascension to the throne by the
presentation of Mary's ring. The withholding of the ring sent by Essex
caused her to die in a passion of remorse and re-awakened affection;
and no sooner was the great struggle over than her ring was taken from
her scarcely cold finger and flung out of the window to Sir John
Harrington, who hastened over the Border with it to the Scottish James.

There are some curious traditions regarding the stones usually set in
rings. The ruby or carbuncle was thought to guard against illness. The
sapphire was the favorite of churchmen, and was thought to inspire
pure desires. Epiphanes says the first tables of the Law were written
on sapphires. The emerald bestowed cheerfulness and increased wealth.
The opal was said to make a man invisible, the jacinth to procure
sleep, and the turquoise to appease quarrels between man and wife.
Things are much changed, however, since heathen sages and Rosicrucian
alchemists defined the qualities and powers of gems. We have
commercial "rings" now, which laugh emerald ones to scorn as means of
procuring wealth. If the opal could make a man invisible, it might be
popular on the first of a month, but we have better narcotics than the
jacinth, while the elaborateness of our women's toilets gives husbands
manifold opportunities of peace-making, quite as successful as the
turquoise.

The Jews first used it in marriage. For this purpose they required it
to have a certain value, and to be finally and fully purchased. If it
was bought on credit, or taken as a gift, its power was destroyed. The
Christian Church early adopted the custom of the marriage ring. It was
placed first on the thumb, in the name of the "Father;" then removed
to the first finger, in the name of the "Son;" to the third with the
name of the "Holy Ghost;" and the "Amen" fixed its place on the
fourth.

Rings were also the emblem of spiritual marriage and dignity as early
as the third century. In the Romish Church the Episcopal ring is of
gold set with a rich gem. The Pope has two rings, one bearing the
likeness of St. Peter, used for ordinary business; the other bearing a
cross, and the heads of both Peter and Paul, and the reigning Pope's
name and arms. It is used only for Bulls, and is broken at the death
of the Pontiff; and a new one given by the city of Rome to his
successor. These rings of spiritual office were frequently worn on the
thumb, and when the tomb of Bede was opened in May, 1831, a large
thumb-ring was found where the right hand had fallen to dust.

The ring has been used not only for carnal and spiritual weddings, but
also for commercial ones. For six hundred years the Doges of Venice
married, with a gold ring, the Adriatic and its rich commerce to their
city on the sea. As an emblem of delegated or transmitted power, the
ring has also played a remarkable part in human affairs. Pharaoh and
Ahasuerus in Biblical records are examples. Alexander transferred his
kingdom to Perdicas with his ring. When Cæsar received the head of
Pompey, he also received his ring, and when Richard the Second
resigned his crown to Henry of Lancaster, he did so by giving him his
ring. The coronation ring of England is of gold, in which is set a
large violet ruby, carved with the cross of St. George. The custom of
engraving sacred emblems upon rings for common wear was angrily
reproved by so early a sage as Pythagoras; and this heathen's delicacy
about sacred things is commended to the notice of those women of our
own day, who toss the holy symbol of our faith around the toilet
tables, and wear it in very unconsecrated places.

However, I have said enough to prove that the ring upon our finger is
a link between us and the centuries beyond the flood. We cannot escape
this tremendous solidarity of the human race. We are part of all that
has been, and the generations that follow us will look back to us and
say, "They were our fathers, and we are their heirs, and lo, we are
all one!"



Flirting Wives


If some good and thoughtful woman who died fifty years ago could
return to this world, what in our present life would most astonish
her? Would it be the wonders of steam, electricity, and science; the
tyranny of the working classes, or the autocracy of servants? No! It
would be the amazing development of her own sex,--the preaching,
lecturing, political women; the women who are doctors and lawyers; who
lose and win money on horses, or in stocks and real estate; the women
who talk slang, and think it an accomplishment; who imitate men's
attire and manners; who do their athletic exercises in public; and,
perhaps more astonishing than all, the women who make marriage the
cloak for much profitable post-nuptial flirtation.

For her own sex engaged in business, she might find excuses or even
admiration; and even for the unfeminine girls of the era, she might
plead Mrs. Poyser's opinion, that "the women are made to suit the
men." But for young wives notorious for their flirting and their
"followers," she could have nothing but unqualified scorn and
condemnation. For the sentiment demanding absolute fidelity in a wife
may be said to have the force of a human instinct; in all ages it has
exacted from her an avoidance of the very appearance of evil.
Therefore a good woman in the presence of a frivolous flirting wife
feels as if a law of nature were being broken before her eyes; since
behind the wife stands the possible mother, and the claims of family,
race, and caste, as well as of conjugal honor, are all in her
keeping.

Without any exaggeration it may be said that wife-errantry is now as
common as knight-errantry once was. The young men of to-day have
discovered the personal advantage and safety there is in the society
of another man's wife. They transpose an old proverb, and practically
say: "Fools marry, and wise men follow their wives." For, if the
husband be only complacent, it is such a safe thing to flirt with a
pretty wife. Young girls are dangerous and might lure them into
matrimony; but they have no fear of bigamy. They can whisper sweet
words to a gay, married flirt; they can walk, and talk, and dance, and
ride with her; they can lounge in her dusky drawing-room or in her
opera box, and no one will ask them the reason why, or make any
suggestion about their "intentions."

How far this custom affects the morals of the woman is not at first
obvious; but we must insist on this recognized premise: "Society has
laid down positive rules regarding the modesty of women, and apart
from these rules it is hard to believe modesty can exist. For all
conventional social laws are founded on principles of good morals and
good sense; and to violate them without a sufficient reason destroys
nicety of feeling, sweetness of mind, and self-respect." It is no
excuse to say that propriety is old-maidish, and that men like smart
women, or that no harm is intended by their flirtations. The question
is: Can married women preserve their delicacy of thought and their
nobleness of manner; can they be truly loyal to their husbands and to
themselves throughout the different phases of a recognized flirtation?
It is an impossible thing.

Suppose a beautiful girl to be wooed and won by a man in every way
suitable to her desires. She has accepted his love and his name, and
vowed to cleave to him, and to him only, till death parts them. The
wooing has been mainly done in full dress, at balls and operas, or in
hours tingling with the expectancy of such conditions. The aroma of
roses, the rustle of silks and laces, the notes of music, the taste of
bon-bons and sparkling wines, were the atmosphere; and the days and
weeks went by to the sense of flying feet in a ballroom, or to
enchanted loiterings in greenhouses, and behind palms and flowers on
decorated stairways.

The young wife is unwilling to believe that marriage has other and
graver duties. She has been taught to live in the present only, and
she is, therefore, cynical and apathetic concerning all things but
dress and amusements. The husband has to return to business, which
has been somewhat neglected; arrears of duty are to be met. He feels
it necessary to attend to the question of supplies; he is, likely, a
little embarrassed by the long holiday of wooing and honeymooning, and
he would be grateful for some retrenchment and retirement, for the
purpose of home-making.

The young wife has no such intentions; she resents and contradicts
them on every occasion; and after the first pang of disappointment is
over, he finds it the most prudent and comfortable plan to be
indifferent to her continued frivolity. He is perhaps even flattered
to find her so much admired; perhaps, in his heart, rather thankful to
be relieved from the trouble of admiring her. As for any graver
thoughts, he concludes that his wife is no worse than A's and B's and
C's wives; that she is quite able to take care of herself, and that in
a multitude of adorers there is safety.

Thus, in a majority of cases, begins the career of the married flirt.
But the character is not a corollary of marriage, if the proper
conditions were present when the wife was a young woman. There is no
salvation in the Order of Matrimony; no miracles are wrought at the
altar of Grace Church, or at St. Thomas's. She that is frivolous,
giddy, and selfish is likely to continue frivolous, giddy, and
selfish; and marriage merely supplies her with a wider field and
greater opportunities for the indulgence of her vanity and greed.

She re-enters society with every advantage of youth, beauty, wealth,
and liberty; released from the disabilities under which unmarried
girls lie; armed with new powers to dazzle and to conquer. No longer a
competitor for a matrimonial prize, she is a rival ten times more
dangerous than she was. Setting aside the wrong done to the sacredness
of the connubial relation, she now becomes the most subtle enemy to
the prospects of all the unmarried girls in her set. What is the bud
to the perfect rose? The timid, blushing maiden pales and subsides
before the married siren who has the audacity and charm of a conscious
intelligence. It is not without good reason that special balls and
parties have come into fashion for social buds; they are the
necessary sequence to the predominance of married sirens, with whom in
a mixed society no young girl can cope. They have the floor and the
partners; they monopolize all the attention, and their pleasure is of
the greatest importance. And their pleasure is to flirt--to flirt in
all places and at all hours.

In vain will some young aspirant to marriage display in the presence
of the married flirt her pretty accomplishments. She may sing her
songs, and play her mandolin never so sweetly, but the young men slip
away with some one or other of the piquant brides of the past year.
And in the privacy of the smoking-room it is the brides, and not the
young girls, who are talked about--what dresses they wear or are
likely to wear, how their hair is done, the history of the jewels
which adorn them, and the clever things they have said or implied.

Before we condemn too much the society girls of the time, we ought to
consider the new enemy who stands in the way of their advancement to
marriage. Is it not quite natural that the most courageous girls
should refuse the secondary place to which married flirts assign
them, and endeavor to meet these invaders with their own weapons? If
so, much of the forwardness of the present young girl is traceable to
the necessity forced upon her by these married competitors. For it is
a fact that young men go to the latter for advice and sympathy. They
tell them about the girls they like, and their fancies are nipped in
the bud. For the married flirt's first instinct is to divest all other
women of that air of romance with which the nobility and chivalry of
men have invested womanhood for centuries. So she points out with a
pitiless exactness all the small arts which other women use; and is
not only a rival to some young girl, but a traitor to her whole sex.

And yet she is not only tolerated but indulged. People giving
entertainments know that their success will be in a large measure
dependent upon the number of beautiful young wives present. They know
the situation is all wrong, but they are sure they cannot either fight
the wrong, or put it right; and in the meantime their particular ball
will not increase the evil very much. Not fifty years ago it was the
young beauties that were considered and looked after, and the
gentlemen asked to an entertainment were asked with reference to the
unmarried girls; for it was understood that any married women present
would, of course, be wrapped up in their own husbands. Then a wife
accepting attentions from one young man after another would have
aroused the contempt and disapproval of every man and woman present.

Vanity in the first place leads young wives to flirting, but grosser
motives soon follow. For whatever other experiences matrimony brings,
it generally stimulates a woman's love of money; and the married siren
soon makes her "followers" understand that she is "a very practical
little woman, and does not care for a sonnet, or a serenade, or a
bouquet of fresh flowers." A summer's cruise in a fine yacht, a seat
on a coach, an opera box, a jewel, dinners, drives, and luncheons, are
the blackmail which the married flirt expects, in return for her
sighs, sentiment, and advice.

It is indeed curious to note the change of fashion in this respect.
Let any one turn over the novels of half a century ago, and he will
see that the favorite plan for compromising a woman's honor was to
induce her to accept the loan of money, or the gift of jewels. If the
unfortunate heroine did so, no novelist would have dared to offer an
apology for her. But this age of luxury and laxity has exploded the
scrupulous delicacy of the Evelinas and Cecilias of the old tales, and
the splendidly free feminine Uhlans of our modern society laugh to
scorn the prim modesty of the Richardsonian standard. They assert, if
not in words yet by their actions, the right of a woman to make her
fascinations serviceable to her.

Some married women contend that their flirtations are absolutely
innocent friendships. But in all stations of society it is a dangerous
thing for two people of the opposite sex to chant together the litany
of the church of Plato. The two who could do it safely would be the
very two who would never dream of such an imprudence. Those who enter
into "friendships" of this kind, with what they think are the most
innocent intentions, should sharply arrest themselves as soon as they
are "talked about." For in social judgments, the dictum that "people
talked about generally get what they deserve" is true, however unjust
it may appear to be.

Another class of married flirts scorn to make any apology, or any
pretence of mere friendship. They stand upon the emancipation of
women, and the right of one sex to as much liberty as the other.
This kind of siren boldly says, "she does not intend to be a slave
like her mother, and her grand-mother. She does not propose to tie
herself, either to a house or a cradle." She travels, she lives in
yachts and hotels, and she does not include a nursery in her
plans. She talks of elective affinities, natural emotions of the
heart, and contrasts the opportunities of such conditions with the
limitations and the monotony of domestic relations. She makes
herself valueless for the very highest natural duties of womanhood,
and then talks of her enfranchisement! Yes, she has her freedom, and
what does it mean? More dresses and jewelry, more visits and
journeys; while the whole world of parental duties and domestic
tendernesses lies in ruins at her feet.

The relegation of the married flirt to her proper sphere and duties is
beyond the power of any single individual. Society could make the
necessary protest, but it does not; for if Society is anything, it is
non-interfering. It looks well to it that the outside, the general
public appearance of its members is respectable; with faults not found
out it does not trouble itself. A charge must be definitely made
before it feels any necessity to take cognizance of it. And Society
knows well that these married sirens draw like magnets. Besides, each
entertainer declares: "I am not my sister's keeper, nor am I her
Inquisitor or Confessor. If her husband tolerates the pretty woman's
vagaries, what right have I, what right has any one, to say a word
about her?"

But it is a fact that, if Society frowned on wives who arrogate to
themselves the privileges both of young girls and of wives, the
custom would become stale and offensive. If it would cease to
recognize young married women who are on the terms with their husbands
described by Millamant in "The Way of the World,"--"as strange as if
they had been married a long time, and as well bred as if they had
never been married at all,"--young married women would behave
themselves better. It is generally thought that Mr. Congreve wrote his
plays for a very dissolute age; in reality, they seem to have been
written for a decorous, rather strait-laced generation, if we compare
it with our own.



Mothers-in-Law


Mothers-in-Law are the mothers for whom there is no law, no justice,
no sympathy, nor yet that share of fair play which an average American
is willing to grant, even to an open adversary. Every petty punster,
every silly witling, considers them as a ready-made joke; and the
wonder and the pity of it is that abuse so unmerited and so long
continued has called forth no champions from that sex which owes so
much to woman, in every relation of life.

The condition of mother-in-law is one full of pathos and self-abnegation,
and all the reproach attached to it comes from those whose selfishness
and egotism ought to render their testimony of small value. A young man,
for instance, falls in love with a girl who appears to him the sum of
all perfections,--perfections, partly inherited from, and partly
cultivated by, the mother at whose side she has lived for twenty years.
She is the delight of her mother's heart, she fills all her hopes and
dreams for the future; and the girl herself, believes that nothing can
separate her from a mother so dear and so devoted.

While the man is wooing the daughter, this wondrous capability for an
absorbing affection strikes him as a very pretty thing. In the first
place, it keeps the mother on his side; in the second, he looks
forward to supplying this capability with a strictly personal object.
At this stage his future mother-in-law is a very pleasant person, for
he is uncomfortably conscious of the Beloved One's father and
brothers. He is then thankful for any encouragement she may give him.
He gladly takes counsel with her; flatters her opinions, makes her
presents, and so works upon her womanly instincts concerning love
affairs that she stands by his side when he has to "speak to papa,"
and through her favor and tact the rough places are made smooth, and
the crooked places plain. Until the marriage is over, and the
longed-for girl his wife, there is no one so important in the lover's
eyes as the girl's mother.

Suddenly all is changed. When the young people return from the
bridal trip there is a different tone and a different atmosphere.
The young husband is now in his own house, and spreading himself like
a peacock in full feather. He thinks "mamma" too interfering. He
resents the familiarity with which she speaks to _his_ wife. He
feels as if her speculation about their future movements was an
impertinence. He says without a blush that her visit was "a bore."
And the bride, being flattered by his desire for no company but her
own, admits that "dear mamma is fussy and effusive." Both have
forgotten the days in which the young husband was a great deal of a
bore to his mother-in-law,--when indeed it was very hard for her to
tolerate his presence; and both have forgotten how she, to secure
their happiness, sacrificed her own wishes and prejudices.

How often does this poor mother go to see her child before she
realizes she is a bore? How many snubs and heart-aches does she bear
ere she comprehends the position? She hopes against despair. She
weeps, and wipes her tears away; she tries again, only to be again
wounded. Her own husband frets a little with her, and then with a
touch of anger at his ungrateful child, advises the mother "to let her
alone." But by and by there is a baby, and she can no longer keep
away. She has a world of loving cares about the child and its mother.
She is sure no one can take her place now. She is very much mistaken.
The baby is a new kind of baby; there has never been one quite such a
perfect pattern before; and the parents--exalted above measure at the
perfection they alone are responsible for--regard her pride and
delight as some infringement of their new honors and responsibilities.
Happiness has only hardened them; and after a little, the mother and
the mother-in-law understands her loss, and humbly refrains from
interfering. Or, if she has an imprudent tongue, she speaks
unadvisedly with it, and her words bite home, and the "mother" is
forgotten, and the "in-law" remains, to barb every ill-natured word
and account for every selfish unkindness.

Of course, in a relationship which admits of endless varieties, this
description fits only a certain number. But it is a very large number;
for there are few families who will not be able to recall some such
case among their members or their acquaintances. Still, many daughters
do more virtuously, and cherish a loyal affection for their old home.
If they are wise and loving and specially unselfish, they will likely
carry their matrimonial bark safely through those narrow shallows
which separate the two households. But the trouble is that newly
married people are both selfish and foolish. They feel themselves to
be the only persons of consequence, and think that all things ought to
be arranged for their pleasure. The solemn majesty of the young wife's
housekeeping is not to be criticised, qualified, or inspected; the
new-made householder does not believe that the "earth is the Lord's,"
or even the children of men's; it is all his own. And their friends
tacitly agree to smile at this egotism awhile, because all the world
really does love a lover; and every one is willing to grant the bride
and bridegroom some short respite from the dreary cares and every-day
business of life.

Two points are remarkable in this persistent antagonism to the
mother-in-law. The first is that the husband who is often specially
vindictive against his wife's mother has very little to say against
her male relatives. If the girl he marries is motherless, he does not
quarrel with his father-in-law; though he may be quite as interfering
as any mother-in-law could be. Yet if the girl, instead of being
motherless, is fatherless, the husband at once begins to show his love
for his wife by a systematic disrespect towards her mother. Yet
perhaps a month previously he had considered her a very amiable lady,
he had shown her many courtesies, he had asked her advice about all
the details of his marriage. What makes him, a little later, accuse
her of every domestic fault? How is it that she has suddenly become
"so self-opinionated"? Never before had he discovered that she treats
his wife like a child, and himself as an appendage. And how does he
manage to make his bride also feel that "dear mamma is trying, and so
unable to understand things." It is a mystery that ends, however, in
the mother-in-law being made to feel that her new relative totally
disapproves of her. The truth is, the lover was afraid of the men of
his wife's family before marriage. They might seriously have
interfered with his intentions. After marriage he knows they will be
civil to him for the sake of his wife. Then, the women of the family
were useful to him before marriage, after it he can do without them.
He has got the woman he was so eager to get by any means, and he
wishes to have her entirely. A smile, or a word, or an act of kindness
to any one else, is so much taken from his rights. He desires not only
to usurp her present and her future, but also her past.

The other remarkable point is the unjust shifting of all the
mother-in-law's shortcomings to the shoulders of the wife's mother;
this is especially unjust, because not only the newspapers of the day,
but also the private knowledge of every individual, furnishes abundant
testimony that it is not the wife's mother, but the husband's mother,
who is at the bottom of nine-tenths of the domestic misery arising
from this source. The wife's mother with small encouragement will
like, even love, the man who has chosen her daughter above all other
women. The husband's mother never really likes her son's wife. And
young wives are apt to forget how bitterly hard it is for a mother to
give her son up, at once and forever, to a girl whom she does not like
in any way. Perhaps hitherto the son and mother have been every one,
and everything to each other, and it is only human that the latter
should have to battle fiercely and constantly with an involuntary
jealousy, and a cruel quicksightedness for small faults in his wife.
It is only human that she should try to make trouble, and enjoy the
fact that her son is less happy with his wife than he was with her,
and that he comes to her for comfort in his disappointment. The love
of a mother is often a very jealous love; and a jealous mother is just
as unreasonable as a jealous wife; she can make life bitterly hard for
her son's wife, and, to do her justice, she very often does so. Then
if the wife--wounded and imprudent--goes to her own mother with her
sorrows and wrongs, it is the natural attitude of the husband to shift
the blame from his own mother to his wife's mother. There are indeed
so many ways by which this misery can enter a household that it is
impossible to define them; for there is just variety enough in every
case to give an individuality of suffering to each.

What, then, is to be done? Let us admit at once that our relations do
give us half the pain and sorrow we suffer in life; but each may do
something to reduce the liability. We may remember that all such
quarrels come from excess of love, and that a quarrel springing from
love is more hopeful than one springing from hate. As mothers-in-law,
we may tell ourselves that when our children are married we no longer
have the first right in them. The young people must be left to make
the best of their life, and we must never interfere, nor ever give
advice until it is asked for. Another irritation, little suspected, is
the palpable forcing forward of the new relationship. On both sides
it is well to be in no hurry to claim it. A girl takes a man for
better or for worse, but does not therefore take all his relations.
Love for her husband does not include admiration for all within his
kindred; nor will it, until the millennium makes all tempers perfect.
And, again, a man does not like to be dragooned into a filial feeling
for his wife's family. Many a man would like his new relatives better
if they left him with a sense of perfect freedom in the matter.

The main point is that men should put a stop to a traditional abuse
that affects every woman in every household. They can do it! Many an
honest, manly fellow would burn with shame if he would only consider
how often he has not only permitted, but also joined in, the silly,
unjust laughter which miserable punsters and negro minstrels and
disappointed lovers and other incapables fling at the women of his own
household. For if a man is married, or ever hopes to be married, his
own mother is, or must be, a mother-in-law. If he has sisters their
destiny will likely put them in the same position. The fairest young
bride has the prospect before her; the baby daughter in the cradle may
live to think her own mother a bore, or to think some other mother
one, if there is not a better understanding about a relationship which
is far indeed from being a laughable one. On the contrary, the
initiation to it is generally a sacrifice, made with infinite
heart-ache and anxiety, and with many sorrowful tears.

In the theatres, in the little circles of which every man's home is
the centre, in all places where thoughtless fools turn women and
motherhood into ridicule, it is in the power of two or three good men
to make the habit derogatory and unfashionable. They can cease to
laugh at the wretched little jokes, and treat with contempt the vulgar
spirit that repeats them. For the men who say bitter things about
mothers-in-law are either selfish egotists, who have called trouble to
themselves from this source, or they are moral imbeciles, repeating
like parrots fatuous jests whose meaning and wickedness they do not
even understand.



Good and Bad Mothers


The difference between good and bad mothers is so vast and so
far-reaching that it is no exaggeration to say that the good mothers
of this generation are building the homes of the next generation, and
that the bad mothers are building the prisons. For out of families
nations are made; and if the father be the head and the hands of a
family, the mother is the heart. No office in the world is so
honorable as hers, no priesthood so holy, no influence so sweet and
strong and lasting.

For this tremendous responsibility mother-love has always been
sufficient. The most ignorant women have trusted to it; and the most
learned have found it potential when all their theories failed. And
neither sage men nor wise women will ever devise anything to take
the place of mother-love in the rearing of children. If there be
other good things present, it glorifies them; if there be no other
good thing--it is sufficient. For mother-love is the spirit of
self-sacrifice even unto death, and self-sacrifice is the meat and
drink of all true and pure affection.

Still, this momentous condition supposes some central influence, some
obligation on the child's part which will reciprocate it; and this
central influence is found to be in _obedience_. There was once a
child in Jewry who was called "wonderful," and yet the most
significant fact recorded of his boyhood is that he "was subject unto
his parents." Indeed nothing else is told of the child, and we are
left to conclude that in the pregnant fact of his boyish obedience lay
the secret of his future perfect manhood. Unselfish love in the
mother! cheerful obedience in the children! in whatever home these
forces are constantly operative, that home cannot be a failure. And
mother-love is not of the right kind, nor of the highest trend, unless
it compels this obedience.

The assertion that affectionate firmness and even wholesome
chastisement is unnecessary with our advanced civilization is a
specious and dangerous one. The children of to-day have as many
rudimentary vices as they had in the days of the patriarchs; as a
general thing they are self-willed and inclined to evil from their
cradles; greedy without a blush, and ready to lie as soon as they
discover the use of language. A good mother does not shut her eyes to
these facts; she accepts her child as imperfect, and trains it with
never-ceasing love and care for its highest duties. She does not call
impudence "smartness," nor insubordination "high spirit," nor
selfishness "knowing how to take care of itself," nor lying and
dishonesty "sharpness." She knows, if the child is to be father to the
man, what kind of a man such a child will make.

How to manage young children; how to strengthen them physically; how
best to awaken their intellects, engage their affections, and win
their confidence; how to make home the sweetest spot on earth, a place
of love, order, and repose, a temple of purity where innocence is
respected, and where no one is permitted to talk of indecent subjects
or to read indecent books,--these are the duties of a good mother; and
her position, if so filled, is one of dignity and grave importance.
For it is on the hearthstone she gives the fine healthy initial touch
to her sons and daughters that is not effaced through life, and that
makes them blessed in their generation.

There is another duty, a very sacred one, which some mothers, however
good in all other respects, either thoughtlessly or with mistaken
ideas, delegate to others, the religious training of their children.
No Sunday-school and no church can do it for them. The child that
learns "Our Father" at its mother's knee, that hears from mother's
lips the heroic and tender stories of the Bible, has a wellspring of
religious faith in his soul that no after life, however hard and fast
and destructive, can dry up. It is inconceivable, then, how a mother
can permit any other woman to deprive her of an influence over her
children nothing can destroy; of a memory in their lives so sweet that
when every other memory is withered and approaching decay, it will
still be fresh and green,--yes, even to the grave's mouth. Family!
Country! Humanity! these three, but the greatest of the three is
Family; and the heart of the family is the good mother. Happy the
children who have one! With them

                        "faith in womankind
  Beats with their blood, and trust in all things high
  Comes easy to them."

But if the grand essential to a good mother be self-denying,
self-effacing love, this is a bad era for its development. Selfishness
and self-seeking is the spirit of the time, and its chilling poison
has infected womanhood, and touched even the sacred principle of
maternity. In some women it assumes the form of a duty. They feel
their own mental culture to be of supreme importance; they wish to
attend lectures, and take lessons, and give themselves to some special
study. Or the enslaved condition of their own sex troubles them;
they bear on their minds the oppressed shop-girls of America, or
the secluded odalisques in some Eastern seraglio, or they have
ecclesiastic proclivities and take the chair at church meetings,
or political ones, and deliver lectures before their special club on
women's disabilities. In these and many other ways they put the
natural mission of womanhood aside as an animal instinct, not
conducive to their mental development.

Now, no one will object to women's devoting themselves to works of
religion and charity; but this devotion should come before marriage.
If they have assumed the position of wifehood, it is a monstrous thing
to hold themselves degraded by its consequences, or to consider the
care of children a waste of their own life. The world can do without
learned women, but it cannot do without good wives and mothers; and
when married women prefer to be social ornaments and intellectual
amateurs, they may be called philanthropists and scholars, but they
are nevertheless moral failures, and bad mothers.

Society has put maternity out of fashion also, and considering the
average society woman, it is perhaps just as well. No children are
more forlorn and more to be pitied than the waifs of the woman whose
life is given up to what she calls "pleasure." Humbler-born babies
are nursed at their mother's breast and cradled in her loving arms.
She teaches them to walk and to read. In all their pain she soothes
them; in all their joys she has a part; in all their wrongs "mother"
is an ever-present help and comforter. The child of the fashionable
woman is too often committed at once to the care of some stranger, who
for a few dollars a month is expected to perform the mother's duty for
her. If it does not suck the vitiated, probably diseased, milk of some
peasant, it has the bottle and india-rubber mouthpiece, when the woman
in charge chooses to give it. But she is often in a temper, or sleepy,
or the milk is not prepared, or she is in the midst of a comfortable
gossip, or she is dressing or feeding herself, and it is not to be
expected she will put any sixteen-dollar-a month baby before her own
comfort or pleasure.

The child cannot complain of hunger, it can only cry, and very likely
may be struck for crying. What these neglected little ones suffer from
thirst is a matter painful to inquire into. The nurse, accustomed to
drink her tea and her beer at all hours, does not, herself patronize
cold water, and she never imagines the child needs it. Many a baby,
after being tortured for hours with a feverish, consuming thirst,
passes into the doctor's hands before the trouble is recognized. But
if the child's own mother had been nursing it she would not have been
long in finding out the cause of its impatient, urgent fretfulness.

Let any tender-hearted woman go into the parks and watch one of these
unhappy children in the care of its nurse. The hot sun beats down on
the small upturned face, and the ignorant creature in charge goes on
with her flirtation, or her gossip, or her novel. The child may be at
shrieking point from lying long in one position, but there is no one
to comprehend its necessity. During those awful hours in which its
teeth force their way through hot and swollen gums--hours which would
bring from adults unwritable exclamations--the forsaken little
sufferer is at the mercy of some sleepy, self-indulgent woman, who has
no love for it. Why, indeed, should she? If it were a matter of
catechism, how many educated women would be capable of nursing
good-naturedly for weeks a fretful, sick child not their own?

As for these neglected babies of pleasure-seeking women, they suffer
terribly, but then their mothers are having what they consider a
perfectly lovely time, posing at the opera or gyrating in some
ballroom, exquisitely dressed, and laughing as lightly as if there
were no painful echoes from their neglected nurseries. For no nurse is
apt to complain of her baby, she knows her business and her interest
too well for that; she prefers to speak comfortable words, and vows
the "little darling grows better and better every hour, God bless it!"
and, so assured, the mother goes airily away, telling herself that her
nurse is a perfect treasure. Whatever other nurses may do, she knows
that her nurse is reliable. The fact is that, even where there are
children in a nursery able to complain of the wrongs and cruelties
they have to endure, they very seldom dare to do so. Mamma is a dear,
beautiful lady, very far off; nurse is an ever-present power, capable
of making them suffer still more. And mamma does not like to hear
tales, she always appears annoyed at anything against nurse. They look
into their mother's face with eyes full of their sad story, if she
only had the heart to understand; but they dare not speak, and very
soon they are remanded back to their cruel keeper with a kiss, and an
injunction to "be good, and do as nurse tells them."

Consider the women to whom this class of mothers delegate their
high office,--an office for which hardly any love or wisdom is
sufficient. It would scarcely be possible in the whole world to
find any persons more unfit for it. Taking this class as a whole,
these very mothers are never tired of expatiating upon its gross
immorality, deceitfulness, greed, and dishonesty; yet they do not
hesitate to leave the very lives of their children in the charge of
these women, whose first lessons to them are lying and deceit. It
is a hideous system, and how hideous must that life called "pleasure"
be that can thus put aside love, reason, conscience, and break to
pieces a natural law so strong that in its purity it frequently
proves more powerful than the law of self-preservation. Writing on
this subject, Frederick James Grant, F. R. C. S., in his bold and
original book, "From Our Dead Selves," tells of a fashionable mother
who put her first child out to nurse, and who, when her second died
at birth and was brought to her bedside in its coffin, was entirely
interested--not in the child--but in the pretty lining and covering
of the coffin. For it is one of the startling facts of this condition
of motherhood that the poor infant left to some dreadful shrew, body
and soul, has the very best care taken of its frills and coats and of
the wraps in its baby carriage. For these things will be seen by other
people's servants and commented on, and are therefore worthy of
attention.

It is a strange state of society which tolerates this awful transfer
of duty, and society will have the bill to pay as well as the cruel
mother. These neglected children, whatever their birth, come really
from the dangerous classes, and have a likelihood to drift there. For
the first moral training of a child is the most important of all, and
in these cases it is given by women gross both through ignorance and
vice; whose relatives are very likely at the same time living in
suspicious localities, or in prison wards. And, naturally enough,
their first lessons to the children under them are to lie, to deceive,
to commit small pilferings, and not be found out. They are ordered not
to carry tales out of the nursery, or let mamma know what nurse does
not want known. Bad language, bad habits, hatred, petty conciliations,
meanness of every kind, are in the curriculum of any nursery left in
the care of the women usually found in them.

No one need imagine that the evil thus wrought can be eradicated in
future years by a higher class of teachers. The vicious seed is sown;
it is next to impossible to go through the field of a child's mind and
gather it up again. It has taken root, and unless it can be crowded
out by a nobler growth, the harvest is certain. The mother, then, who
prefers pleasure and society to her children, whom she hands over to
wicked and cruel nurses, is herself wicked and cruel. She may stand
before the world as the personification of refinement and delicacy
and elegance, but she is really no better than her substitute; and she
has no right to expect that her children will be better. In some
favorable cases there may come a redeeming power in future years, but
in the main they will drift downward to their first moral impressions;
and when they have become bad and unhappy men and women, they will not
scruple to say, "From our mother cometh our misery." These are hard
truths, yet one-half has not been told. For if it were not for the
abounding number of good mothers, both rich and poor, this class of
women would undermine all virtue, and everything lovely and of good
report.

There was once an idea that mothers were the antiseptic quality in
society, that they preserved its moral tone, by insisting that the
language used and the subjects discussed before them should be such as
were suitable for virtuous women. But there is one kind of bad mother
to whom questionable subjects seem highly suitable. She discusses them
without reserve in the presence of her daughters, and she makes her
drawing-room the forum for women with queer domestic views, for
"Physical Culture" women, and such-like characters. The things our
grandmothers went down to their graves without knowing she talks about
in unmistakable terms before unmarried girls. A certain mother who
boldly defended her opinion that "girls should not be kept ignorant as
a means for keeping them innocent," permitted her own daughter to be
present during all the unsavory scandal of Vanity Fair. The child
learned to watch with interest the doings of women of many seasons,
and to listen with composure to very questionable stories. Before she
was twelve years old she had become suspicious of the conduct of every
woman, and when her teacher one day asked her, "Who was Moses?" she
answered promptly, "The son of Pharoah's daughter." "Not the son,"
corrected the teacher, "the adopted son. Pharoah's daughter found him
in the river Nile." "_So_ she said," replied this premature
woman,--suspicions of women's actions and a ready assumption of the
very worst motives for them, being the lessons she had deduced from
knowledge imparted before mind and experience were capable of
receiving it.

It is often said that "ignorance is not innocence." True, but neither
is knowledge innocence; it is most frequently the first step of
guiltiness. What good can come of little children knowing the things
which belong to maturity? Is any girl sweeter or even safer for
knowing about the under-current of filth below the glittering crust of
gilded society? The Chinese quarter is a fact, yet is there a mother
who would like her daughter to visit it? But if it is not fit to
visit, it is not fit to talk about. No one is ever the better for
knowing of evil, unless they can do something to remedy it.

A good mother will shield her children from the consequences of their
own ignorance, physical and moral, and she will just as carefully
shield them from knowledge which is hurtful because premature,--just
as fruit green and unripe is hurtful. And no guardianship is too close
for this end. Mothers will generally admit this fact as regards the
children of other people, but as to their own brood they cradle
themselves in a generous belief of its incorruptibility. Their girls
would never do as other girls do; and their girls are consequently
permitted a license which they would think dangerous for any but their
own daughters. Then some day there is a paragraph in one of the
papers, and the men blame the man, and the women blame the girl, and
all the time the mother is probably the guiltiest of the parties. She
has stimulated her daughter's imagination in childhood, she has left
her to the choice of her companions in youth, she has trusted her
sacred duty to circumstances, she has indulged a vague hope concerning
the honor and virtue of humanity, and thus satisfied her indolent
neglect. But what right had she to expect that men would revere the
treasure she herself left unguarded?

For there has been no special race made for this era; what Adam,
Jacob, Samson, and David were, what Eve, Sarah, Rachel, Jael, and
Bathsheba were, the men and women of to-day are, in all their
essentials. Circumstances only have made them to differ; and nature
laughs at circumstances, and goes back at any crisis to her first
principles. Indeed, the good mother of to-day, instead of relaxing,
must increase her care over her children. For never since the world
began has youth been so catered to, never has it been surrounded by so
many open temptations, never so much flattered, and yet at the same
time never have the reins of discipline been so far relaxed. Now the
spirit we evoke we must control, or else we must become its slave.
If we are no longer to reverence the gray hairs of age; if young men
are to drive the chariot of the sun, and young women are to be
allowed to strip the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil, then it is
high time some system of education was invented which will put old
heads upon young shoulders. Alas, this can never be, for education
is a long and composite process, made up of home influences,
surrounding circumstances, and early associations. When books and
schools and teachers shall have done all they possibly can, high
above every Gamaliel will sit the good mother,--the first influence,
the first teacher, the first friend, and the last.



Unequal Marriages


If there is a mistake peculiarly fatal to a young man's or a girl's
future, it is that supreme act of social destruction called a
_mésalliance_. Indeed it is not measurable by any of the usual
conditions of life, and death itself would be a kindness compared with
the long misery of some kinds of _mésalliances_. They may arise from
inequalities of birth, differences in religious faith, or great
discrepancies in age; but whatever their occasion, they are always a
far-reaching and irretrievable mistake; the mistake _par excellence_
of any life.

An unequal marriage is not only the most fatal blunder of life, it is
also the most common one; and although it is not very easy for a man
to ruin himself with a single act, a foolish marriage will afford him
at least one decided way. In regard to men's _mésalliances_, they
cannot be said to be specially the temptation of youth. Foolish old
men who marry their cooks, and foolish young men who burden themselves
with some Casino divinity, keep up a very steady average. But the
young man's mistake is much the worst of the two; for he has his whole
life before him, and has probably made no provision against such a
social suicide.

If an old man marries beneath his station and culture, he believes he
is getting the wife he most desires; and if he is disappointed, he is
at any rate near the end of life, and he either has no children to
suffer from his folly, or they have already grown beyond its most
painful reach. But a young man who binds himself to a woman who is
every way beneath his own station, education, and professional
ambition, is in a different case. In a very short time the disillusion
of those senses begins under which he permitted mere physical beauty
to bind him; and he knows that, as far as his future progress is
concerned, he has put a millstone about his neck.

The effect of a social _mésalliance_ on a girl is still worse. In the
first place, it ought to be so; for she has to sin against the natural
instinct of a good woman, which is always to marry above herself, an
instinct which is, both physiologically and socially, noble. For a
woman is less than a woman who does not consider the consequence of
marriage, and provide in every way possible to her the best father for
her offspring. And if she marries beneath herself socially, the almost
certain presumption is that the social status of her husband is the
measure of his intellectual abilities, and of his personal refinement
also. And when a woman considers herself only in her marriage, and has
no care for the circumstances to which she may doom her unborn
children, she is an incarnation of animal selfishness.

Without stopping to analyze the sources of its disapproval, this is
undoubtedly an instinctive motive for the persistent cold shouldering
which society gives girls who degrade themselves by a _mésalliance_.
It is obvious to every one that she has sinned against herself, her
family, her class, and the highest instincts of her sex. Women have
no pardon for such sinners; for they see not only the present wrong,
they look forward also to the possible children of such a union. They
understand that they will have to suffer all the limitations of
poverty when they ought to have had all the advantages of wealth. They
may possibly inherit their father's vulgar tastes and tendencies, or
they may have to endure the misery of fine tastes without any
opportunity to gratify them. For this premeditated sin against
motherhood and against posterity, good women find it hard to tolerate
the offender; for they know that a woman's honor is in her husband,
and that her social station and her social life is determined by his.

When a girl is guilty of a _mésalliance_, it is sometimes said in
extenuation that "she has married a man of noble disposition; and it
is better to marry a poor, ignorant man, with a noble disposition,
than a rich man who is selfish and vicious." If the alternative was a
positive one, yes, but there is no need to make a choice between these
characters. Men of refined habits and manners and good education may
also have noble dispositions; and poor, ill-bred men have not always
noble ones; at any rate, a good woman will always find in her own
class just as good men as she will find in a class below her own.

All this danger is evident to parents. They know how fleeting
passion and fancy are; and they rightly conceive that it is their
duty by all possible means to prevent their daughter making an
unworthy marriage. How far parents may lawfully interfere is a
question not yet decided, nor yet easy to decide. The American
idea of marriage is, theoretically, that every soul finds its
companion soul, and lives happily ever after; and in this romantic
search for a companion soul, young girls are allowed to roam about
society, just when their instincts are the strongest and their
reason the weakest. The French theory--to which the English is akin
somewhat--is that a mother's knowledge is better than a girl's fancy;
and that the wisdom that has hitherto chosen her teachers, physicians,
spiritual guides, and companions, that has guided her through
sickness and health, is not likely to fail in selecting the man most
suitable for her husband.

This latter theory supposes women to love naturally any personable man
who is their own, and who is kind to them; that is, if she has a
virgin heart, and comes in this state from her lessons to her marriage
duties. The American theory supposes girls to love by sympathy, and
through soul attraction and personal attraction; consequently, our
girls are let loose early--too early--to choose among a variety of
Wills and Franks and Charlies; and the natural result is a great
number of what are called "love matches" to which it must be
acknowledged _mésalliances_ are too often the corollary. Between these
two theories, it is impossible to make a positive selection; for the
bad of each is so bad, and the good of each so good that both alike
are capable of the most unqualified praise and blame. It may, however,
be safely asserted that the confidence every American girl has in her
own power to choose her own husband helps to lessen the danger and to
keep things right. For an honorable girl may be trusted with her own
honor; and a dishonorable one, amid a number to choose from, may
peradventure fare better than she deserves; for Fortune does sometimes
bring in the bark that is not steered.

Most girls make _mésalliances_ in sheer thoughtlessness, or through
self-will, or in that youthful passion for romance which thinks it
fine to lose their world for love. Foolish novels are as often to
blame for their social crime as foolish men,--novels which are an
apotheosis of love at any cost! Love against every domestic and social
obligation! Love in spite of all prudent thought of meat and money
matters! Love in a cottage, and nightingales and honeysuckles to pay
the rent! And if parents object to their daughter marrying ruin, then
they are represented as monsters of cruelty; while the girl who flies
stealthily to her misery, and breaks every moral tie to do so, is
idealized into an angel of truth and suffering.

In real life what are parents to do with a daughter whose romantic
folly has made her marry their groom or their footman? We have
outlived the inexorable passions of our ancestors, and their undying
loves and hatreds, sacrifices and revenges. Our social code tolerates
no passion swallowing up all the rest; and we must be content with a
decent expression of feeling. What their daughter has done they cannot
undo; nor can they relieve her from the social consequences of her
act. She has chosen to put their servant above and before them, and to
humiliate her whole family, that she may please her low-born lover and
herself, and she has therefore no right to any more consideration than
she has given. Her parents may not cease to love her, and they may
spare her all reproaches, knowing that her punishment is certain; but
they cannot, for the sake of their other children, treat her socially
above the station she has chosen. She has become the wife of a
servant, and they cannot accept her husband as their equal nor can
they insult their friends by introducing him to them. How wretched is
the position she has put herself in; for if the man she married be
naturally a low man, he will probably drag her to his level by the
"grossness of his nature." If she be a woman of strong character she
may lift her husband upward, but she accepts such a labor at the peril
of her own higher life. And if she finds it impossible either to lift
him to her level or to sink herself to his level, what then remains?
Life-long regrets, bitter shame and self-reproach, or else a forcible
setting of herself free. But the latter remedy carries desperation
instead of hope with it. Never can she quite regain her maiden place,
and an _aura_ of a doubtful kind influences every effort of her future
life.

After all, though men have not the reputation of being romantic, it is
certain that in the matter of unequal marriage, they are more
frequently imprudent than women. There is some possibility of lifting
a low-born woman to the level of a cultivated man, and men dare this
possibility far more frequently than is generally supposed. Perhaps
after a long season they find the fine ladies with whom they have
flirted and danced a weariness; and in this mood they are suddenly
taken with some simple, unfashionable girl, who does not know either
how to dress, or flirt, or dance. So they make the grave error of
thinking that because fine ladies are insupportable, women who are not
fine ladies will be sweet and companionable. But if the one be a
blank, will that prove the other a prize? The dulness or folly of a
polite woman is bad enough; but the dulness and folly of an uneducated
woman is worse. Very soon they find this out, and then comes
indifference, neglect, cruelty, and all the misery that attends two
ruined lives.

The result of unequal marriage in both sexes is certain wretchedness,
and this verdict is not to be altered by its exceptions, however
brilliant they may seem to be. For when a man of means and education
marries an uneducated girl of low birth, or a woman of apparent
culture and high social position marries her servant, and the
marriages are reasonably happy, then it may be positively said,
"_There has been no mésalliance_." The husband and wife were unequal
only in their externals. The real characters of both must have been
vulgar and naturally low and under-bred.

It is folly to talk of two beings unequally married "growing
together," or of "time welding their differences," and making things
comfortable. Habit indeed reconciles us to much suffering, and to many
trials; but an unequal marriage is a trial no one has any business to
have. It is without excuse, and therefore without comfort. When the
Almighty decrees us a martyrdom he blends his peace and consolations
therewith; but when we torture ourselves our sufferings rage like a
conflagration. Perhaps the chain may be worn, as a tight shoe is worn
into shape until it no longer lames; but oh, the misery in the
process! And even in such case the resigned sufferer has no credit in
his patience; quite the contrary, for he knows as well as others know,
though submission to what God ordains is the very height of energy and
nobility, submission to the mistakes we ourselves make is the very
climax of cowardice and weakness.



Discontented Women


Discontent is a vice six thousand years old, and it will be eternal;
because it is in the race. Every human being has a complaining side,
but discontent is bound up in the heart of woman; it is her original
sin. For if the first woman had been satisfied with her conditions, if
she had not aspired to be "as gods," and hankered after unlawful
knowledge, Satan would hardly have thought it worth his while to
discuss her rights and wrongs with her. That unhappy controversy has
never ceased; and, with or without reason woman has been perpetually
subject to discontent with her conditions, and, according to her
nature, has been moved by its influence. Some it has made peevish,
some plaintive, some ambitious, some reckless, while a noble majority
have found in its very control that serene composure and cheerfulness
which is granted to those who conquer, rather than to those who
inherit.

But, with all its variations of influence and activity, there has
never been a time in the world's history when female discontent has
assumed so much and demanded so much as at the present day; and both
the satisfied and the dissatisfied woman may well pause to consider
whether the fierce fever of unrest which has possessed so large a
number of the sex is not rather a delirium than a conviction; whether
indeed they are not just as foolishly impatient to get out of their
Eden, as was the woman Eve six thousand years ago.

We may premise, in order to clear the way, that there is a noble
discontent which has a great work to do in the world; a discontent
which is the antidote to conceit and self-satisfaction, and which
urges the worker of every kind continually to realize a higher ideal.
Springing from Regret and Desire, between these two sighs, all
horizons lift; and the very passion of its longing gives to those who
feel this divine discontent the power to overleap whatever separates
them from their hope and their aspiration.

Having acknowledged so much in favor of discontent, we may now
consider some of the most objectionable forms in which it has attacked
certain women of our own generation. In the van of these malcontents
are the women dissatisfied with their home duties. One of the saddest
domestic features of the day is the disrepute into which housekeeping
has fallen; for that is a woman's first natural duty and answers to
the needs of her best nature. It is by no means necessary that she
should be a Cinderella among the ashes, or a Nausicaa washing linen,
or a Penelope forever at her needle, but all women of intelligence now
understand that good cooking is a liberal science, and that there is a
most intimate connection between food and virtue, and food and health,
and food and thought. Indeed, many things are called crimes that are
not as bad as the savagery of an Irish cook or the messes of a
fourth-rate confectioner.

It must be noted that this revolt of certain women against housekeeping
is not a revolt against their husbands; it is simply a revolt
against their duties. They consider housework hard and monotonous and
inferior, and confess with a cynical frankness that they prefer to
engross paper, or dabble in art, or embroider pillow-shams, or sell
goods, or in some way make money to pay servants who will cook their
husband's dinner and nurse their babies for them. And they believe that
in this way they show themselves to have superior minds, and ask credit
for a deed which ought to cover them with shame. For actions speak
louder than words, and what does such action say? In the first place,
it asserts that any stranger--even a young uneducated peasant girl
hired for a few dollars a month--is able to perform the duties of
the house-mistress and the mother. In the second place, it substitutes
a poor ambition for love, and hand service for heart service. In the
third place, it is a visible abasement of the loftiest duties of
womanhood to the capacity of the lowest-paid service. A wife and
mother cannot thus absolve her own soul; she simply disgraces and
traduces her holiest work.

Suppose even that housekeeping is hard and monotonous, it is not more
so than men's work in the city. The first lesson a business man has to
learn is to do pleasantly what he does not like to do. All regular,
useful work must be monotonous, but love ought to make it easy; and at
any rate the tedium of housework is not any greater than the tedium of
office work. As for housekeeping being degrading, that is the veriest
nonsense. Home is a little royalty; and if the housewife and mother be
of elements finely mixed and loftily educated, all the more she will
regard the cold-mutton question of importance, and consider the
quality of the soup, and the quantity of chutnee in the curry, as
requiring her best attention. It is only the weakest, silliest women
who cannot lift their work to the level of their thoughts, and so
ennoble both.

There are other types of the discontented wife, with whom we are all
too familiar: for instance, the wife who is stunned and miserable
because she discovers that marriage is not a lasting picnic; who
cannot realize that the husband must be different from the lover, and
spends her days in impotent whining. She is always being neglected,
and always taking offence; she has an insatiable craving for
attentions, and needs continual assurances of affection, wasting her
time and feelings in getting up pathetic scenes of accusation, which
finally weary, and then alienate her husband. Her own fault! There is
nothing a man hates more than a woman going sobbing and complaining
about the house with red eyes; unless it be a woman with whom he must
live in a perpetual fool's paradise of perfection.

There are also discontented wives, who goad their husbands into
extravagant expenditure, and urge them to projects from which they
would naturally recoil. There are others, whose social ambitions slay
their domestic ones, and who strain every nerve, in season and out of
season, and lose all their self-respect, for a few crumbs of
contemptuous patronage from some person of greater wealth than their
own. Some wives fret if they have no children, others just as much if
children come. In the first case, they are disappointed; in the
second, inconvenienced; and in both, discontented. Some lead
themselves and others wretched lives because they have not three times
as many servants as are necessary; a still greater number because they
cannot compass a life of constant amusement and excitement.

A very disagreeable kind of discontented woman is the wife who,
instead of having a God to love and worship, makes a god of her
religion, alienates love for an ecclesiastical idea, or neglects
her own flesh and blood to carry the religious needs of the world;
forgetting that the good wife keeps her sentiments very close to her
own heart and hearth. But perhaps the majority of discontented wives
have no special thing to complain of; they fret because they are
"so dull." If they took the trouble to look for the cause of this
"dulness," they would find it in the want of some definite plan of
life, and some vigorous aim or object. Of course any aim implies
limitation, but limitation implies both virtue and pleasure. Without
rule and law, not even the games of children could exist, and the
more strictly the rules of a game are obeyed, the greater the
satisfaction. A wife's duty is subject to the same conditions. If
aimless, plaintive women would make strict laws for their households,
and lay out some possible vigorous plan for their own lives, they
would find that those who love and work have no leisure for
complaining.

But from whatever cause domestic discontent springs, it makes the home
full of idleness, ennui, and vagrant imaginations, or of fierce
extravagance, and passionate love of amusement. And as a wife holds
the happiness of many in her hands, discontent with her destiny is
peculiarly wicked. If it is resented, she gets what she deserves; if
it is quietly endured, her shame is the greater. For nothing does so
much honor to a wife as her patience; and nothing does her so little
honor as the patience of her husband. And however great his patience
may be, she will not escape personal injury; since none are to be held
innocent who do harm even to their own soul and body. Besides, it is
the inflexible order of things that voluntary faults are followed by
inevitable pain.

Married women, however, are by no means the only complainers. There
is a great army of discontents who, having no men to care for them,
are clamoring, and with justice, for their share of the world's work
and wages. Such women have a perfect right to make a way for
themselves, in whatever direction they best can. Brains are of no sex
or condition, and at any rate, there is no use arguing either their
ability or their right, for necessity has taken the matter beyond the
reach of controversy. Thousands of women have now to choose between
work, charity, or starvation, for the young man of to-day is not a
marrying man. He has but puny passions, and his love is such a very
languid preference that he cannot think of making any sacrifice for
it. So women do not marry, they work; and as the world will take good
work from whoever will give it, the world's custom is flowing to them
by a natural law.

Now, earnest, practical women-workers are blessed, and a blessing; but
the discontented among them, by much talking and little doing,
continually put back the cause they say they wish to advance. No
women are in the main so discontented as women-workers. They go into
the arena, and, fettered by old ideas belonging to a different
condition, they are not willing to be subject to the laws of the
arena. They want, at the same time, the courtesy claimed by weakness
and the honor due to prowess. They complain of the higher wages given
to men, forgetting that the first article of equal payment is equal
worth and work. They know nothing about what Carlyle calls "the
silences;" and the babble of their small beginnings is, to the
busy world, irritating and contemptible. It never seems to occur to
discontented working-women that the best way to get what they want
is to act, and not to talk. One silent woman who quietly calculates
her chances and achieves success does more for her sex than any
amount of pamphleteering and lecturing. For nothing is more certain
than that good work, either from man or woman, will find a market;
and that bad work will be refused by all but those disposed to give
charity and pay for it.

The discontent of working-women is understandable, but it is a wide
jump from the woman discontented about her work or wages to the woman
discontented about her political position. Of all the shrill
complainers that vex the ears of mortals, there are none so foolish as
the women who have discovered that the founders of our republic left
their work half finished, and that the better half remains for them to
do. While more practical and sensible women are trying to put their
kitchens, nurseries, and drawing-rooms in order, and to clothe
themselves rationally, this class of discontents are dabbling in the
gravest national and economic questions. Possessed by a restless
discontent with their appointed sphere and its duties, and forcing
themselves to the front in order to ventilate their theories and show
the quality of their brains, they demand the right of suffrage as the
symbol and guarantee of all other rights.

This is their cardinal point, though it naturally follows that the
right to elect contains the right to be elected. If this result be
gained, even women whose minds are not taken up with the things of the
State, but who are simply housewives and mothers, may easily predicate
a few of such results as are particularly plain to the feminine
intellect and observation. The first of these would be an entirely new
set of agitators, who would use means quite foreign to male
intelligence. For instance, every favorite priest and preacher would
gain enormously in influence and power; for the ecclesiastical zeal
which now expends itself in fairs and testimonials would then expend
itself in the securing of votes in whatever direction they were
instructed to secure them. It might even end in the introduction of
the clerical element into our great political Council Chambers,--the
bishops in the House of Lords would be a sufficient precedent,--and a
great many women would really believe that the charming rhetoric of
the pulpit would infuse a higher tone in legislative assemblies.

Again, most women would be in favor of helping any picturesque
nationality, without regard to the Monroe doctrine, or the state of
the finances, or the needs of the market. Most women would think it a
good action to sacrifice their party for a friend. Most women would
change their politics, if they saw it to be their interest to do so,
without a moment's hesitation. Most women would refuse the primary
obligation on which all franchises rest,--that is, to defend their
country by force of arms, if necessary. And if a majority of women
passed a law which the majority of men felt themselves justified in
resisting by physical force, what would women do? Such a position in
sequence of female suffrage is not beyond probability, and yet if it
happened, not only one law, but _all_ law would be in danger. No one
denies that women have suffered, and do yet suffer, from grave
political and social disabilities, but during the last fifty years
much has been continually done for their relief, and there is no
question but that the future will give all that can be reasonably
desired. Time and Justice are friends, though there are many moments
that are opposed to Justice. But all such innovations should imitate
Time, which does not wrench and tear, but detaches and wears slowly
away. Development, growth, completion, is the natural and best
advancement. We do not progress by going over precipices, nor re-model
and improve our houses by digging under the foundations.

Finally, women cannot get behind or beyond their nature, and their
nature is to substitute sentiment for reason,--a sweet and not
unlovely characteristic in womanly ways and places; yet reason, on the
whole, is considered a desirable necessity in politics. At the Chicago
Fair, and at other convocations, it has been proven that the
strongest-minded women, though familiar with platforms, and deep in
the "dismal science" of political economy, when it came to disputing,
were no more philosophical than the simplest housewife. Tears and
hysteria came just as naturally to them as if the whole world wagged
by impulse only; yet a public meeting in which feeling and tears
superseded reason and argument would in no event inspire either
confidence or respect. Women may cease to be women, but they can never
learn to be men, and feminine softness and grace can never do the work
of the virile virtues of men. Very fortunately this class of
discontented women have not yet been able to endanger existing
conditions by combinations analogous to trades-unions; nor is it
likely they ever will; because it is doubtful if women, under any
circumstances, could combine at all. Certain qualities are necessary
for combination, and these qualities are represented in women by their
opposites.

Considering discontented women of all kinds individually, it is
evident that they must be dull women. They see only the dull side of
things, and naturally fall into a monotonous way of expressing
themselves. They have also the habit of complaining, a habit which
quickens only the lower intellect. Where is there a more discontented
creature than a good watch-dog? He is forever looking for some
infringement of his rights; and an approaching step or a distant
bark drives him into a fury of protest. Discontented women are always
egotists; they view everything in regard to themselves, and have
therefore the defective sympathies that belong to low organizations.
They never win confidence, for their discontent breeds distrust and
doubt, and however clever they may naturally be, an obtrusive self,
with its train of likings and dislikings, obscures their judgment,
and they take false views of people and things. For this reason, it
is almost a hopeless effort to show them how little people
generally care about their grievances; for they have thought about
themselves so long and so much that they cannot conceive of any
other subject interesting the rest of the world. We may even admit
that the women discontented on public subjects are often women of
great intelligence, clever women with plenty of brains. Is that the
best? Who does not love far more than mere cleverness that sweetness
of temper, that sunny, contented disposition, which goes through the
world with a smile and a kind word for every one? It is one of the
richest gifts of heaven; it is, according to Bishop Wilson,
"nine-tenths of Christianity."

Fortunately, the vast majority of women have been loyal to their sex
and their vocation. In every community the makers and keepers of homes
are the dominant power; and these strictures can apply only to two
classes,--first, the married women who neglect husband, children, and
homes, for the foolish _éclat_ of the club and the platform, or for
any assumed obligation, social, intellectual or political, which
conflicts with their domestic duties: secondly, the unmarried women
who, having comfortable homes and loving protectors, are discontented
with their happy secluded security and rush into weak art, or feeble
literature, or dubious singing and acting, because their vanity and
restless immorality lead them into the market place, or on to the
stage. Not one of such women has been driven afield by indisputable
genius. Any work they have done would have been better done by some
unprotected, experienced woman already in the fields they have
invaded. And the indifference of this class to the money value of
their labor has made it difficult for the women working because they
must work or starve, to get a fair price for their work. It is the
baldest effrontery for this class of rich discontents to affect
sympathy with Woman's Progress. Nothing can excuse their intrusion
into the labor market but unquestioned genius and super-excellence of
work; and this has not yet been shown in any single case.

The one unanswerable excuse for woman's entrance into active public
life of any kind is _need_, and, alas, need is growing daily, as
marriage becomes continually rarer, and more women are left adrift in
the world without helpers and protectors. But this is a subject too
large to enter on here, though in the beginning it sprung from
discontented women, preferring the work and duties of men to their own
work and duties. Have they found the battle of life any more ennobling
in masculine professions than in their old feminine household ways? Is
work done in the world for strangers any less tiresome and monotonous
than work done in the house for father and mother, husband and
children? If they answer truly, they will reply, "The home duties were
the easiest, the safest, and the happiest."

Of course all discontented women will be indignant at any criticism of
their conduct. They expect every one to consider their feelings
without examining their motives. Paddling in the turbid maelstrom of
life, and dabbling in politics and the most unsavory social questions,
they still think men, at least, ought to regard them as the Sacred
Sex. But women are not sacred by grace of sex, if they voluntarily
abdicate its limitations and its modesties, and make a public display
of unsexed sensibilities and unabashed familiarity with subjects they
have nothing to do with. If men criticise such women with asperity it
is not to be wondered at; they have so long idealized women that they
find it hard to speak moderately. They excuse them too much, or else
they are too indignant at their follies, and unjust and angry in their
denunciation. Women must be criticised by women; then they will hear
the bare, uncompromising truth, and be the better for it.

In conclusion, it must be conceded that some of the modern discontent
of women must be laid to unconscious influence. In every age there is
a kind of atmosphere which we call "the spirit of the times," and
which, while it lasts, deceives as to the importance and truth of its
dominant opinions. Many women have doubtless thus caught the fever of
discontent by mere contact, but such have only to reflect a little,
and discover that, on the whole, they have done quite as well in life
as they have any right to expect. Then those who are married will
find marriage and the care of it, and the love of it, quite able to
satisfy all their desires; and such as really need to work will
perceive that the great secret of content abides in the unconscious
acceptance of life and the fulfilment of its duties,--a happiness
serious and universal, but full of comfort and help. Thus they will
cease to vary from the kindly race of women, and through the doors of
Love, Hope, and Labor, join that happy multitude who have never
discovered that life is a thing to be discontented with.



Women on Horseback


Every woman ought to know how to ride. It is the most healthy of
exercises; and in a life of vicissitudes she may some day find it the
only method of travel--perchance the only method of saving her life.

The first element of enjoying horse exercise is good riding. Good
riding is an affair of skill, a collection of trifles, which, if
thoroughly mastered, makes the rider feel thoroughly secure.

A man or a boy may learn to ride by practice; that is, he may tumble
off and on until experience not only gives him confidence, but
security and even elegance. It is not so with a woman. Her seat is
artificial; she must be taught how to keep it; for though she may have
a father or brother who has "good hands," and who can show her how to
handle reins and humor her horse's mouth, he cannot teach her to sit
in her saddle because he cannot sit in it himself.

The horse which a lady rides should be up to her weight, well-trained,
and docile, for a woman on horseback has little to help her but her
hand and her whip. If the flap of the saddle be large, the pressure of
the left leg is almost useless, and the folds of her riding dress very
often interfere with the discipline of the spur.

The whip is therefore her chief reliance, and its management is of
great importance. As it is really to supply the place of a man's right
leg and spur, it should be stiff and real, however light and
ornamental. The skin of the hippopotamus makes one both light and
severe. There is little difficulty in using it on the right side of
the horse, but to use it on the near side is a matter of both skill
and caution. Remember, first, never to strike a horse over any part of
the head or neck; second, if necessary to strike him on the forehand,
quietly lift the whip to an upright position, then let it firmly and
suddenly descend along the shoulder and instantly return to the
upright position; third, to strike the near hindquarter properly
requires a firm and graceful seat. Pass the right hand gently behind
the waist, as far as possible, without distorting in the least the
position of the body, and strike by holding the whip between the first
two fingers and thumb. This action ought to be performed without
disturbing either the position or action of the bridle hand.

As the riding dress of a gentleman should never be groomish, so that
of a lady should never be fast or flashy. The hat should sit tightly
to the head, for the hands are needed for reins and whip, and cannot
safely be continually occupied in its adjustment. The plainer it is,
the more ladylike; but if plumes are used, then those of the cock,
pheasant, peacock, or heron, are most suitable. The habit, if for real
use, may be lined a foot deep with leather. In English hunting
counties light vests are sometimes worn in bright weather, and in
winter, over-jackets of sealskin. It is well to remember that it is
the chest and back which need double protection, both during and
after hard riding. Skirts are seriously in the way. The snug flannel
under-dress and the pantalets of the same cloth as the habit are all
that is necessary. Light, high boots are a great comfort in riding
long distances, and almost equally good are gaiters of heavy cloth,
velvet, or corduroy.

The saddle ought always to have what is called the hunting-horn on the
left side; yet however common it is in the North, I never saw it on a
saddle in Texas during ten years. The right-hand pommel is in the way,
and the best saddles have now only a flat projection in its place. It
prevents the rider from putting the right hand as low as a restive
horse requires it, and young and timid riders are apt to get a habit
of leaning on it.

The value of the hunting pommel is very great. If the horse leaps
suddenly up, it holds down the left knee, and makes it a fulcrum to
keep the right one in its proper place. In riding down steep places it
prevents sliding forward, and assists greatly in managing a hard
puller. A rider cannot be thrown on it, and it renders it next to
impossible that she should be thrown on the other pommel; besides, it
gives the habit and figure a much finer appearance.

But it is necessary for every lady to have this pommel as carefully
fitted to her person as her habit is. Not only see the saddle in
progress, but _sit on it_. A chance saddle may seem to suit; so also,
if a No. 4 shoe is worn, a ready-made 4 may be wearable; but as a shoe
made to fit the wearer's foot is always best, so also is a saddle that
is adjusted to the rider's proportions.

A stirrup may be an advantage, if the foot is likely to weary; but
since the general introduction of the third pommel it is not necessary
to a woman in the way that it is to a man. A woman, also, is very apt
to make it a lever for "wriggling" about in her saddle,--a habit that
is not only very ungraceful, but which gives many a horse a sore back,
which a firm, quiet seat never does.

Reins should not be given to a learner; her first lessons should be on
a led horse. The best horsewomen in England have been taught how to
walk, canter, gallop, trot, and leap without the assistance of reins.
I do not advocate the plan for general use, but I do know that
learners are apt to acquire the habit of holding on by the bridle.

When the hand is trusted with reins, hold them in both hands. One
bridle and two hands are far better than two bridles and one hand. The
practice of one-handed riding originated in military schools; for a
trooper has a sword or lance to carry, and riding-schools have usually
been kept by old soldiers. But who attempts to turn a horse in harness
with one hand? Don't hold the reins as if you were afraid of letting
them go again, for this not only gives a "dead" hand, but compels the
rider's body to follow the vagaries of the horse's head. Lightly and
smoothly, "as if they were a worsted thread," hold the reins; and from
the time the horse is in motion till the ride is finished, never cease
a gentle sympathetic feeling upon the mouth. Women generally attain a
"good hand" easier than men. In the first place, it is partly natural
and spontaneous; in the second, they do not rely so much upon their
physical strength and courage. A man in the pride of his youth is apt
to despise this manipulation.

Many riders say it is better for a woman to use only the curb; but if
she does this, all chance of learning "hand" is gone. I say, let her
use the reins in both hands, slackening or tightening according to the
pace she wishes, and the horse's eagerness. If she succeeds in this,
and never keeps "a dead pull," she is a long way toward being a good
horsewoman. As to turning, there is no better rule than Colonel
Greenwood's simple maxim: "When you wish to turn to the right, pull
the right-hand rein stronger than the left"--and _vice versa_.

All women should learn to canter before learning to trot. It is a much
easier pace, and helps to give confidence. To canter _with the right
foreleg leading_, make an extra bearing on the right rein, and a
strong pressure with the left leg, heel, or spur; at the same time
bring the whip across the near forehand of the horse. If he hesitates,
pass the hand behind the waist and strike the near hindquarter.

To canter _with the left foreleg leading_, the extra bearing must be
made on the left rein, by turning up the little finger toward the
right shoulder, and using the whip on the right shoulder or flank.
Never permit the horse to choose which foreleg shall lead; make him
subject to your will and hand; and it is a good plan to change the
leading leg when in a canter. In all movements remember to keep the
bridle arm close to the body, and do not throw the elbow outward. The
movements of the hand must come from the wrist alone, and the bearings
on the horse's mouth be made by gently turning upward the little
finger, at the same time keeping the hand firmly closed upon the
reins.

The horse is urged to trot by bearing equally on both reins, and using
the whip gently on the _right_ flank. Sit well down in the saddle, and
rise and fall with the action of the horse, springing lightly from the
in-step and the knee. Nothing is uglier than rising too high, and
besides its awkward, ungraceful appearance, it endangers the position.
If the horse strikes into a canter of his own accord, bring him at
once to a halt and begin again, or bear strongly on both reins till he
resumes his trot, or else break the canter by bearing strongly on the
rein opposite to his leading leg. Always begin at a gentle pace, and
never trot a moment after either fear or fatigue is felt.

The horsemanship of a lady is never complete until she has learned to
leap; for even if she intend nothing beyond a canter in the park,
horses will leap at times without permission. When a horse rises to a
leap, lean _well forward_, and bear gently on the mouth. When he makes
the spring, strike the right flank (if necessary). As he descends,
_lean backward_, pressing the leg firmly against the hunting pommel,
and bearing the bridle strongly on the mouth. Collect the horse with
the whip, and urge him forward at speed.

I shall now say a few words about mounting and dismounting, though
every tyro imagines these to be the easiest of actions. In mounting,
stand close to the horse, with the right hand on the middle pommel,
the whip in the left hand, and the left hand on the groom's right
shoulder. Do not scramble, but spring, into the saddle; sit well down,
and let the right leg hang over the pommel _a little back_, for if the
foot pokes out, the hold is not firm. Lean rather back than forward,
firm and close from the hips downward, flexible from the hips upward.
The reins must be held apart a little above the level of the knee. In
dismounting, first take the right leg from its pommel, then the left
from the stirrup. See that the dress is clear from all the pommels,
especially the hunting one; let the reins fall on the horse's neck,
place the left hand on the right arm of the groom, and the right hand
on the hunting-pommel, and descend to the ground on the balls of the
feet.

I have one more subject to notice. It is this: If a woman is to go out
riding, no matter who may be her chaperon, nor whether it be in the
park or the hunting field, she ought to know _how to take care of
herself_; not with obtrusive independence, but with that modest,
unassuming confidence which is the result of a perfect acquaintance
with all that the situation demands.



A Good Word For Xanthippe

BY WAY OF APOLOGY, EXPLANATION, AND DEFENCE


We may be pardoned, perhaps, for judging the living according to our
humor, but the dead, at least, we should judge only with our reason.
Become eternal, we should endeavor to measure them with the eternal
rule of justice. If we did this, how many characters having now an
immortality of ill, would secure a more favorable verdict. For
twenty-three centuries Xanthippe has been regarded as the type of
everything unlovely in womanhood and wifehood. We forget all the other
Grecian matrons of Periclean times, to remember this poor wife with
scorn. Yet if we would bestow half the careful scrutiny on an accurate
analysis of her position which is given to other texts of classical
writers, we might find her worthy of our sympathy more than scorn.

In the "Memorabilia" of Xenophon (II.2) Socrates is represented as
pointing out to his eldest son, Lamprocles, the duty of paying a
respectful attention to a mother who loved him so much better than any
one else, and he calls him a "wretch" who should neglect it. Indeed,
the picture he draws of the maternal relation is one of the finest
things in ancient literature. Would Socrates have urged respect and
obedience towards a mother unworthy of it? Would Lamprocles have
received the fatherly flogging and reproof as meekly as he did if he
had not been sensible of his error? And if there had been anything
incongruous in Socrates demanding for Xanthippe Lamprocles' respect
and obedience, would not Xenophon have noticed it? But it is not to
philosophers and fathers we appeal for Xanthippe; mothers and
housewives must judge her. When she married Socrates he was a
sculptor, and, according to report, a very fair one,--not, perhaps, a
Phidias, but one doing good, serviceable, paying work. He had a house
in Athens, and people paid rent and went to market then as now; and
he had a wife and family whom it is evident he ought to support.
Doubtless Xanthippe was a good housekeeper,--women with sharp tempers
usually have that compensation,--but who can keep house amiably upon
nothing? Mr. Grote tells us that Socrates relinquished his paying
profession and devoted himself to teaching, "excluding all other
business to the neglect of all means of fortune."

If he had taken money for teaching, perhaps Xanthippe might not have
opposed him so much; but he would neither ask nor receive reward. The
fact probably was, Socrates had a delight in talking, and he preferred
talking to business. Whatever _we_ may think of his "talks," Xanthippe
did not likely consider them anything wonderful. Nothing but a jury of
women whose husbands have "missions," and neglect everything for them,
could fairly judge Xanthippe on this point. It is of no use for us to
say, "Socrates was such a great man, such a divine teacher;" Xanthippe
did not know it, and a great many of the wisest and greatest of the
Athenians had no more sense in this respect than she had. Aristophanes
regularly turned him into sport for the theatres. What Christian wife
would like that? Comic plays were written about him, and the gamins
under the porticos ridiculed him. If he had been honored, Xanthippe
would have forgiven his self-imposed poverty; but to be poor, and
laughed at! Doubtless he deserved a good portion of the curtain
lectures he got.

Then Xanthippe had another cause of complaint in which she will be
sure of the sympathy of all wives. Socrates did not share in its full
bitterness the poverty to which he condemned his family. While she was
eating her pulse and olives at home, he was dining with Athenian
nobles, and drinking wine by the side of the brilliant Aspasia or the
fascinating Theodite.

We see Socrates, "splendid through the shades of time," as a great
moral teacher; but many of the Athenians of his day laughed at him,
and very few admired him. At any rate he did not provide for the wants
of his household, and even a bachelor like Saint Paul severely
condemns such a one. Certainly the men of Athens did not admire
Socrates, and probably the women of Xanthippe's acquaintance
sympathized with her,--to a woman of her temperament a very great
aggravation. It may be said all this is special pleading, but when we
have knocked at the door of certain truths in vain, we should try and
get into them by the window.



The Favorites of Men


It may be taken as a rule that women who are favorites with men are
very seldom favorites with their own sex. Wherever women congregate,
and other women are under discussion, men's favorites are named with
that tone of disapproval and disdain which infers something not quite
proper--something undesirable in the position. If specific charges are
made, the "favorite" will probably be called "an artful little flirt,"
or she will be "sly" or "fast." Matrons will wonder what the men see
in her face or figure; and the young girls will deplore her manners,
or rather her want of manners; or they will mercifully "hope there is
nothing really wrong in her freedom and boldness, but----" and the
sigh and shrug will deny the charitable hope with all the emphasis
necessary for her condemnation. For if a girl is a favorite with the
men of her own set, she is naturally disliked by the women, since she
attracts to herself far more than her share of admiration; and the
admiration of men, whether women acknowledge it or not, is the desire
and delight of the feminine heart, just as the love of women is the
desire and delight of the masculine heart.

In their social intercourse two kinds of women please men: the
bright, pert woman, who says such things and does such things as no
other woman would dare to say and do, and who is therefore very
amusing; and the sympathetic woman who admires and perhaps loves
them. But these two great classes have wide and indefinite varieties,
and the bright little woman with her innocent audaciousness, and
the graceful, swan-necked angel, with her fine feelings and her softly
spoken compliments, are but types of species that have infinite
peculiarities, and distinctions. The two women, sitting quietly in
the same room and dressed in the same orthodox fashion, may not
appear to be radically different, but as soon as conversation and
dancing commence, the one, in a frankly outspoken way, says just
what she thinks, and charms in the most undisguised manner, while the
other must be looked for in retired corners, quiet and demure,
listening with pensive adoration to her companion's cleverness,
and flirting in that insidious way which sets other women's cheeks
burning with indignation.

An absolutely womanly ideal for the purposes of flirtation or of
platonic friendship--if such an emotion exists--is not supposable; for
man is himself so many-sided that the woman who is perfect in one's
estimation would be uninteresting in another's. It is, however, very
certain that the women men flirt with are not the women men marry.
Their social favorites, are not the matrimonial favorites, and
therefore it is not a good thing for a girl's settlement that she
should get the reputation of being a "gentlemen's favorite." It is
rather a position to be avoided, for the brightest or sweetest girl
with this character will likely pass her best years in charming all
without being able to fix one lover to her side for life. This is the
secret of the great number of plain married women whom every one
counts among his acquaintances.

The position of a favorite is no easy one. She has to cultivate many
qualities which should be put to better use and bring her more
satisfactory results. She must have discrimination enough to value
flirting at its proper value; for if she confounds love-making with
love, and takes everything _au grand serieux_, her reputation as a
safe favorite would be seriously endangered. In her flirtations she
must never permit herself to show whether she be hit or not. She must
never suffer a fop to have any occasion for a boast. She must avoid
every circumstance which would allow a feminine rival an opportunity
for a sneer. She must be able to give and take cheerfully, to conceal
every social wound and slight, and to be deaf to every disagreeable
thing. In short, she must be armed at every point, and never lay down
her arms, and never be off watch. It is therefore a position whose
requirements, if translated into active business life, would employ
the utmost resources of a fertile and energetic man.

And what are the general results of talents so varied and so
industriously employed? As a usual thing, the gentlemen's favorite
dances and flirts her way from a brilliant girlhood to a fretful,
neglected _femme passée_. She has in the meantime had the mortification
of seeing the plain girls whom she despised become honored wives and
mothers, and possibly leaders in that set of the social world of which
she still makes one of the rank and file of spinsterhood. Her
disappointments, in spite of her careful concealment of them, tell
upon her physique. She sees the waning of her power, and the
approaches of that winter of discontent which wasted opportunities are
sure to bring.

Spurred with a sense of haste by some unhappy slight, she perhaps
unadvisedly marries a man who ten years previously would not have
ventured to clasp her shoe-buckle. If he happens to possess a firm
will and a strong character, he will try to pull her sharply up to his
mark, and there will be endless frictions and reprisals, with all
their possible results. If he is some old lover, weak in purpose,
fatuous and brainless in his admiration, then the foolish flirting
virgin will likely become a foolish flirting wife; and a miserable
complaisance will bring forth its natural outgrowth of contempt and
dislike, and perhaps culminate in some flagrant social misdemeanor.

To be a favorite with men is not, then, a desirable honor for any
woman. They will admire her loveliness, sun themselves in her smiles,
and catch a little ephemeral pleasure and glory in her favor; but they
will not marry her. And the reason, though not very evident to a
thoughtless girl, is at least a very real and powerful one. It is
because such a girl _never touches them on their best side_, and never
reveals in herself that womanly nature which a man knows instinctively
is the foundation of wifely value,--that nature which expresses itself
in service for love's sake, as a very necessity of its being.

On the contrary, a "favorite" leans all to one side, and that side is
herself. She is overbearing and exacting in the most trivial matters
of outward homage. She will be served on the bended knee, and her
service is a hard and ungrateful one. And this is the truth about
such homage: men may be compelled to kneel to a woman's whims for a
short time, but when they do find courage to rise to their feet they
go away forever.

So that, after all, the estimate of women for those of their own sex
who are favorites of a great number of men is a very just one. It is
neither unfair nor untrue in its essentials, for in this world we can
only judge actions by their consequences; and the consequences of a
long career of general admiration do not justify honorable mention of
the belle of many seasons. She can hardly escape the results of her
social experience. She must of necessity become false and artificial.
She cannot avoid a morbid jealousy of her own rights, and a painful
jealousy of the successes of those who have passed her in the
matrimonial career.

Nor can she, as these qualities strengthen, by any means conceal their
presence. Every attribute of our nature has its distinctive
atmosphere; it is subtle and invisible as the perfume of a plant, but
it makes itself distinctly present,--even when we are careful to
permit no translation of the feeling into action. Men are not
analyzers or inquirers into character, as a general rule, but the
bright ways and witty conversation of their favorite does not deceive
them. Sooner or later they are sensitive to the restlessness,
disappointment, envy, and hatred, which couches beneath the smiles and
sparkle. They may put the knowledge away at the time, but when they
are alone they will eventually admit and understand it all.

And the saddest part of this situation is that they are not at all
astonished at what their hearts reveal to them. They know that they
have expected nothing better, nothing more permanently valuable. They
tell themselves frankly that in this woman's society they never looked
for imperishable virtues; she was only a pretty _passe-temps_--a woman
suitable for life's laughter, but not for its noblest duties and
discipline.

For when good men want to marry, they seek a woman for what _she is_,
not for what she looks. They want a gentlewoman of blameless honor,
who will love her husband, and neither be reluctant to have children
nor to bring them up at her knees; who will care for her house duties
and her husband's comfort and welfare as if these things were an
Eleventh Commandment. And such women, fair and cultured enough to make
any home happy, are not difficult to find. However peculiar and
individual a man may be, there are very few in a generation who cannot
convince some good woman that their peculiarities are abnormal genius,
or refined moral sensitiveness, or some other great and rare
excellency.

Therefore, before a girl commits herself to a course of frivolity and
time-pleasing, which will fasten on her such a misnomer as a
"favorite" of men, let her carefully ponder the close of such a
career. For, having once obtained this reputation, she will find it
very hard to rid herself of its consequences. And it is, alas, very
likely that many girls enter this career thoughtlessly, and not until
they are entangled in it find out that they have made a mistake with
their life. Then they are wretched in the conditions they have
surrounded themselves with, and yet are afraid to leave them. Their
popularity is odious to them. They stretch out their hands to their
wasted youth, and their future appalls them. They weep, for they think
it is too late to retrieve their errors.

No! It is never too late to lift up the head and the heart! It is
always the right hour to become noble and truthful and courageous once
more! In short, there is yet a Divine help for those who seek it; and
in that strength all may turn back and recapture their best selves.
While life lasts there is no such time as "too late!" And oh, the good
that fact does one!



Mothers of Great and Good Men


Women are apt to complain that their lot is without influence. On the
contrary, their lot is full of dignity and importance. If they do not
lead armies, if they are not state officers, or Congressional orators,
they mould the souls and minds of men who do, and are; and give the
initial touch that lasts through life. The conviction of the mother's
influence over the fate of her children is old as the race itself;
ancient history abounds with examples; and even the destinies of the
gods are represented as in its power. It was the mothers of ancient
Rome that made ancient Rome great; it was the Spartan mothers that
made the Spartan heroes. Those sons went out conquerors whose mothers
armed them with the command, "With your shield, or on it, my son!"

The power of the mother in forming the character of the child is
beyond calculation. Can any time separate the name of Monica from that
of her son Augustine? Never despairing, even when her son was deep
sunk in profligacy, watching, pleading, praying with such tears and
fervor that the Bishop of Carthage cried out in admiration, "Go thy
way; it is impossible that the son of these tears should perish!" And
she lived to see the child of her love all that her heart desired. Nor
are there in all literature more noble passages than those which St.
Augustine consecrates to the memory of a parent whom all ages have
crowned with the loftiest graces of motherhood.

Bishop Hall says of his mother, "She was a woman of rare sanctity."
And from her he derived that devoted spirit and prayerful dignity
which gave him such unbounded influence in the church to which his
life was consecrated. The "divine George Herbert" owed to his mother a
still greater debt, and the famous John Newton proposes himself as "an
example for the encouragement of mothers to do their duty faithfully
to their children." Every one is familiar with the picture which
represents Dr. Doddridge's mother teaching him, before he could read,
the Old and New Testament history from the painted tiles in the
chimney corner. Crowley, Thomson, Campbell, Goethe, Victor Hugo,
Schiller and the Schlegels, Canning, Lord Brougham, Curran, and
hundreds of our great men may say with Pierre Vidal:

  "If aught of goodness or of grace
    Be mine, hers be the glory;
  She led me on in wisdom's path
    And set the light before me."

Perhaps there was never a more wonderful example of maternal influence
than that of the Wesleys' mother. To use her own words, she cared for
her children as "one who works together with God in the saving of a
soul." She never considered herself absolved from this care, and her
letters to her sons when they were men are the wonder of all who read
them. Another prominent instance is that of Madame Bonaparte over her
son Napoleon. This is what he says of her: "She suffered nothing but
what was grand and elevated to take root in our souls. She abhorred
lying, and passed over none of our faults." How large a part the
mother of Washington played in the formation of her son's character,
we have only to turn to Irving's "Life of Washington" to see. And it
was her greatest honor and reward when the world was echoing with his
renown, to listen and calmly reply, "He has been a good son, and he
has done his duty as a man."

John Quincy Adams owed everything to his mother. The cradle hymns of
his childhood were songs of liberty, and as soon as he could lisp his
prayers she taught him to say Collins' noble lines, "How sleep the
brave who sink to rest." No finer late instance of the influence of a
mother in the formation of character can be adduced than that of
Gerald Massey. His mother roused in him his hatred of wrong, his love
of liberty, his pride in honest, hard-working poverty; and Massey, in
his later days of honor and comfort, often spoke with pride of those
years when his mother taught her children to live in honest
independence on rather less than a dollar and a half a week. The
similar instance of President Garfield and his mother is too well
known to need more than mention.

There can be no doubt of the illimitable influence of the mother in
the formation of her child's character. The stern, passionate piety of
Mrs. Wesley made saints and preachers of her children; the ambition
and bravery of Madame Bonaparte moulded her son into a soldier, and
the beautiful union of these qualities helped to form the hero beloved
of all lands,--George Washington. I do not say that mothers can give
genius to their sons; but all mothers can do for their children what
Monica did for Augustine, what Madame Bonaparte did for Napoleon, what
Mrs. Washington did for her son George, what Gerald Massey's mother
did for him, what ten thousands of good mothers all over the world are
doing this day,--patiently moulding, hour by hour, year by year, that
cumulative force which we call character. And if mothers do this duty
honestly, whether their sons are private citizens or public men, they
will "rise up and call them blessed."



Domestic Work for Women


To that class of women who toil not, neither spin, and who, like
contented ravens, are fed they know not how nor whence, it is
superfluous to speak of domestic service; for their housekeeping
consists in "giving orders," and their marketing is represented by
tradesmen's wagons and buff-colored pass-books. Yet I am far from
inferring that, because they can financially afford to be idle, they
have a right to be so. They surely owe to the world some free gift of
labor, else it would be hard to see why they came into it. Not for
ornaments certainly, since Parian marble and painted canvas would be
both more economical and satisfactory; not for housewives, for their
houses are in the hands of servants; not for mothers, for they
universally grumble at the advent and responsibility of children.

But to the large majority of women, domestic service ought to be a
high moral question, especially to those who are the wives of men
striving to keep up on limited incomes the reality and the appearance
of a prosperous home; all the more necessary, perhaps, because the
appearance is the condition on which the reality is possible.

Too often a false notion that usefulness and elegance are incompatible,
that it is "unladylike" to be in their kitchens, or come in contact
with the baker and butcher, makes them abrogate the highest honors of
wifehood. Or perhaps they have the misfortune to be the children of
those tender parents who are permitted without loss of reputation to
educate their daughters for drawing-room ornaments in their youth, and
yet do nothing to _insure_ them against a middle age of struggle and
privation, and an old age of misery.

To such I would speak candidly--not without thought--not without
practical knowledge of what I say--not without strong hopes that I may
influence many warm, thoughtless hearts, who only need to be once
alive to a responsibility in order to feel straitened and burdened
until they assume and fulfil it.

Is it fair, then, is it just, kind, or honorable, that the husband day
after day should be bound to the wheel of a monotonous occupation, and
the wife fritter away the results in frivolity or suffer them to be
wasted in extravagant and yet unsatisfactory housekeeping? Supposing
the magnificent affection of the husband makes him willing to coin his
life into dollars, in order that the wife may live and dress and visit
according to her ideal, ought she to accept an offering that has in it
so strong an odor of human sacrifice?

Even if it be necessary to keep up a certain style, it is still in the
wife's power to make the husband's service for this end a reasonable
one. Personal supervision of the marketing will save twenty per cent,
and I am afraid to say how much might be saved from actual waste in
the kitchen by the same means; and this is but the beginning.

Yet saving is only one item in the wife's lawful domestic service; if
her husband is to be a permanently successful man, she must take care
of his digestion. It may seem derogatory to thought, enterprise, and
virtue to assert that eating has anything to do with them. I cannot
help the condition; I only know that it exists, and that she is but a
poor wife who ignores the fact.

The days when men stuck to their "roast and boiled" as firmly as to
their creed are, of necessity, disappearing. The fervid life we are
all leading demands food that can be assimilated with the least
possible detriment to, or expenditure of, the vital powers. "Thoughts
that burn" are no poetic fancy; the planning, the calculating that a
business man performs during the day literally burns up the material
of conscious life. It is the wife's duty to replenish the fires of
intellect and energy by fuel that the enfeebled vitality can convert
most easily into the elements necessary to repair the waste.

The idea that it is derogatory for cultivated brains and white hands
to investigate the stock-jar and the stew-pan is a very mistaken one.
The daintiest lady I ever knew, the wife of a merchant who is one of
our princes, sees personally every day to the preparation of her
husband's dinner and its artistic and appetizing arrangement on the
table. I have not the smallest doubt that the nourishing soups, the
delicately prepared meats, the delicious desserts, are the secret of
many a clear-headed business transaction, household investments that
make possible the far-famed commercial ones. This mysterious
relationship between what we _eat_ and what we _do_ was dimly
perceived by Dr. Johnson when he said that "a man who did not care for
his dinner would care for nothing else."

Artistic cooking derogatory! Why, it is a science, an art, as sure to
follow a high state of civilization as the fine arts do. No persons of
fine feelings can be indifferent to what they eat, any more than to
what they wear, or what their household surroundings are. A man may be
compelled by circumstances to swallow half-cooked bloody beef and
boiled paste dumplings, and yet it may be as repugnant to him as it
would be to wear a scarlet belcher neckerchief, a brass watch-chain,
and a cotton-velvet coat. Yet his wife may be ignorant or indifferent;
he is too much occupied with other matters to "make a fuss about it,"
and so he shuts his eyes, opens his mouth, and takes whatever his cook
pleases to send him. I do not like to be uncharitable, but somehow I
can't help thinking that a wife who permits this kind of thing is
unworthy of her wedding ring.

Let her take a volume of F. W. Johnston's "Domestic Chemistry" in her
hand, and go down into her kitchen. She will be in a far higher region
of romance than Miss Braddon can take her into. She will learn that it
is her province to renew her husband physically and mentally by
dexterously depositing the right kind of nutriment upon the inward,
invisible frame. The wonders of science shall supersede then, for her,
the wonders of romance. To feed the sacred fire of life will become a
noble office; she will count it as honorable, in its place, to make a
fine soup or a delicate Charlotte Russe as to play a Beethoven sonata
or read a German classic.

Truly, I think that it is almost a sin for a housekeeper with all her
senses to be ignorant of the laws of chemistry affecting food. Yet the
subject is so large and complicated that I can only indicate its
importance; but I am sure that women of affection and intelligence who
may now for the first time accept the thought, will follow my hints to
all their manifold conclusions. One of these conclusions is so
important that I cannot avoid directing special attention to it,--the
moral effect of proper food.

Do not doubt that all through life high things depend on low ones; and
in this matter it must be evident to every observing woman that food
is often the _nerve_ of our highest social affections. There is an
acute domestic disorder which Dr. Marshall Hall used to call "the
temper disease." Need I point out to wives the wonderful sympathy
between this disease and the dining-table? Do they not know that a
fretful, belated, ill-cooked breakfast has the power to take all the
energy out of a sensitively organized man, and make his entire day an
uncomfortable failure?

On the contrary, a cheerful room, a snowy cloth, coffee "with the
aroma in," bread whose amber crust and light, white crumb is a
picture, in short, a well-appointed, quiet, comfortable first meal has
in it some subtle influence of strength and inspiration for work. I
have seen men rise from such tables _joyful_--full of such gratitude
and hope as I can well believe only found expression in that silent
uplifting of the heart to God which is, after all, our purest prayer.

Then when at evening he returns weary, faint and hungry, a fine sonata
or an exquisite painting will not much comfort him. I even doubt
whether a religious service could profitably take the place of his
dinner; for we _know_, if we will acknowledge it, that the importunate
demands of the flesh do cry down the still small voice of devotion.
But how different we feel after eating; then we are disposed for
something higher, the mind is elevated to gracious thoughts, the brain
gives reasonable counsel, the heart generous responses. And I speak
with all reverence when I say that many of our darkest hours in
spiritual things are not to be attributed to an angry God or a hidden
Saviour, but to physical repletion or inanition. But if these
wonderfully fashioned bodies be the "temple of the Holy Ghost," how
shall we expect the comforts of God in a disordered or ill-kept
shrine?

Thus it is in the power of the housewife to turn the work of the
kitchen into a sacrifice of gladness, and to make the offices of the
table a means of grace. Certain it is that she will decide whether her
husband is to be commercially successful or not; for if a man will be
rich, he must ask his wife's permission to be so. And if he will be
physically healthy, mentally clear, morally sweet, she must take care
that his home furnish the proper food and stimulus on which these
conditions depend. Nor will she go far wrong if she take as a general
rule, lying at the foundation, or in close connection with them all,
Sydney Smith's pleasant hyperbolic maxim, "Soup and fish explain half
the emotions of life."

We will suppose that the housewife is also the house-mother, and
that she is not content with apathetically remarking that "her
children are beyond her control," and so sending them away to
nurses and boarding schools; but that she really strives to
encourage every virtue, draw out every latent power, and make both
boys and girls worthy of the grand future to which they are heirs. Who
shall say now that woman's domestic sphere is narrow, or unworthy of
her highest powers? For if she accepts honestly and solemnly all her
responsibilities, she takes a position that only good women or
angels could fill.

Nor need house duties shut her out from all service except to those of
her own household. In these very duties she may find a way to help her
poorer sisters far more efficient than many of more pretentious
promise. When she has become a scientific, artistic cook, let her
permit some ignorant but bright and ambitious girl to spend a few
hours daily by her side, and learn by precept and example the highest
rules and methods of the culinary art. Girls so instructed would be
real blessings to those who hired them, and would themselves start
life with a real, solid gain, able at once to command respectable
service and high wages.

I am quite aware that such a practical philanthropist would meet with
many ungracious returns, and not a few insinuating assertions that her
charity was an insidious attempt to get work "for nothing." But a good
woman would not be deterred by this; she has had but small experience
of life who has not learned that it is often our very best and most
unselfish actions which are suspected, simply because their very
unselfishness makes them unintelligible; and if we do not reverence
what we cannot understand, we suspect it.

It may seem but a small thing to do for charity's sweet sake, but who
shall measure the results? Say that in the course of a year four young
girls receive a practical knowledge of the art of cooking, how far
will the influence of those four eventually reach? The larger part of
all our good deeds is hid from us,--wisely so, else we should be
overmuch lifted up. We have nothing to do with aggregate results, and
I believe that the woman who provides intelligently for her
household, makes it cheerful and restful, and finds heart and space to
help some other woman to a higher life, has the noblest of "missions,"
the grandest of "spheres," and is most blessed among women.

She who adds to household duties maternal duties fills also the
highest national office, since to her hands are committed--not indeed
the laws of the republic but the fate of the republic; for the
children of _to-day_ are the _to-morrow_ of society, and its men of
action will be nothing but unconscious instruments of the patient love
and prayerful thought of the mothers who taught them. And yet let the
women who are excused from this office be grateful for their
indulgence. Alas! how many shoulders without strength have asked for
heavy burdens.



Professional Work for Women

"LABOR! ALL LABOR IS NOBLE AND HOLY!"


That man should provide and woman dispense are the radical conditions of
domestic service; conditions which I believe are highly favorable to
the development of the highest type of womanhood. But at the same
time they are far from embracing all women capable of high development,
nor are they perhaps suitable for every phase of character included
in that myriad-minded creature--woman.

For just as one tree attains its most perfect beauty through
sheltering care, and another strikes the deepest roots and lifts
the greenest boughs by self-reliant struggles, so also some women
reach their highest development through domestic duties, while
others hold their life most erect through public service and
enforced responsibilities.

It has taken the world, however, nearly 6,000 years to come to the
understanding that these latter souls must not be denied their proper
arena, that brains have no sex, and that it is well for the world to
have its work done irrespective of anything but the _capability_ of
the workers. But it has now so far accepted the doctrine that women
who must labor if they would live honestly and independently need no
longer do so under sufferance or suspicion. Wherever they can best
make their way the road is open, and they are encouraged to make it;
nor am I aware of any serious restriction laid on them, except one,
whose true kindness is in its apparent severity,--namely, that the
debutante must justify her work by her success in it. I call this
kind, because favor and toleration are here unkind; since she who
stands from any other reason than absolute fitness will sooner or
later fall by an inevitable law.

The great curse of women, educated and yet unprovided for, is not that
they have to labor, but that, having to work, they cannot find the
work to do. Nor is it generally their fault; they have probably been
miseducated in the old idea that marriage is the only social salvation
provided whereby woman can be saved; and no one having married them,
what are these compulsory social sinners to do?

A great number turn _instinctively_ to literature for help and
comfort; and their instinct in many respects is not at fault; for
literature is one of the few professions that from the first has dealt
kindly and honorably with women. Here the race is fair; if the female
pen is fleetest, it wins.

But writing _does not_ come by nature; it is an art to be seriously
and sedulously pursued. My own reflection and experience lead me to
believe that within the last thirty years its methods have radically
changed. That condition of inspiration and mental excitement once
considered the native air of genius has lost much of its importance;
and people now ordinarily write by the exercise of their reason and
reflection, and by the continual and faithful cultivation of such
natural powers as they are endowed with. Upon the whole, it is a mark
of rational progress, and opens the field to every woman who is
thoughtful and cultivated and willing to study industriously. Not
undervaluing the mood of inspiration, I yet honestly believe that for
practical bread-winning purposes reason and study are the most
effectual aids, and the hours devoted to personal culture by acquiring
information just so much "stock in trade" acquired.

The motives for writing, too, have either changed with the method, or
else writers have become more honest, as they have become more
reasonable. I can remember when every author imagined himself
influenced by some unworldly consideration, such as the desire to do
good, or to instruct, or at least because he had something to say
which constrained him to write. But people now sell their knowledge as
they sell any other commodity; the best and the greatest men write
simply for money, and no woman need feel any conscientious scruples
because her own pressing cares sometimes obliterate the full sense of
her responsibility. God does not work alone with model men and women.
He takes us just as we are; and I _know_ that the stray arrow shot
from the bow when the hand was weary and the mind halting has often
struck nearer home than those set with scrupulous exactness and sped
with careful aim.

Besides writing, there are other literary occupations specially suited
to women, such as index-makers, amanuenses, and proof-readers. The
first need a clear head and great patience, but the remuneration is
very good. An amanuensis must have a rapid hand, a fair education, and
such a quick, sympathetic mind as will enable her to readily adapt
herself to the author's moods, and in some measure follow his train of
thought. Proof-reading pre-supposes a general high cultivation, enough
knowledge of French, Latin, etc., to read and correct quotations, and
an intimate acquaintance with general literature, as well as grammar,
orthography, and punctuation. But though a responsible position,
women, both from physical and mental aptitude, fill it better than
men. They have a faculty of detecting errors immediately, often
without knowing why or how, and are both more patient and more expert.
The editors of the _Christian Union_ practically support me in this
opinion, and the carefully correct type of the paper is evidence of
the highest order. The conditions of these three employments being
present, the mere technicalities of each are of the simplest kind, and
very easily acquired.

"A fair field and no favor" has also been freely granted to women in
every department of music and art. But in its highest branches public
opinion is inexorable to mediocrity; and success is absolutely
dependent on great natural abilities, thoroughly and highly
cultivated. But there are many inferior branches in which women of
average ability, properly educated, may make honorable and profitable
livelihoods. Such, for instance, as engraving on wood and steel,
chasing gold and silver, cutting gems and cameos, and designing for
all these purposes.

Not a few women (and men too) make good livings by designing costumes
for the large dry-goods houses and the fashionable modistes; but the
good designer is a creator, and this faculty has always hitherto been
confined to a small number both of men and women. The ability to draw
by no means proves it; this is only the tool, the design is the
thought. Therefore schools of design, though they may furnish natural
designers with tools, cannot make designers. If designing, then, is a
woman's object, she must not deceive herself; for if the "faculty
divine" is not present she may devote years to study, and never rise
above the mere copyist.

It is usually conceded that antiquity and general "use and wont"
confer a kind of claim to any office. If so, then women have an
inherited right, almost wide as the world, and coeval with history, to
practise medicine. Every one recognizes them as the natural physicians
of the household, and under all our ordinary ailments it is to some
wise woman of our family we go for advice or assistance. As Miss Cobbe
says,--

"Who ever dreams of asking his grandfather, or his uncle, his footman,
or his butler what he shall do for his cold, or to be so kind as to
tie up his cut finger?" Yet women regard such requests as perfectly
natural, and are very seldom unable to gratify them.

Medicine as a profession for women has almost won its ground; and as
it is a science largely depending on insight into individual
peculiarities, it would seem to be specially their office. An
illustrious physician says, "There are no diseases, there are diseased
people;" and the remark explains why women--who instinctively read
mental characters--ought to be admirable physicians.

Indeed female physicians have already gained a position which entitles
them to demand their male opponents to "show cause why" they may not
share in all the honors and emoluments of the faculty. That the
profession, as a means of employment for women, is gaining favor is
evident from their large attendance at the free medical colleges for
women in this city, nor are there any facts to indicate that their
practice is less safe than that of men; and if accidents have taken
place, they were doubtless the result of ignorance, and not of sex.

Theodore Parker favored even the legal profession for women, giving it
as his opinion that "he must be rather an uncommon lawyer who thinks
no feminine head could compete with him." Most lawyers are rather
mechanics at law, than attorneys or scholars at law; and in the
mechanical part women could do as well as men, could be as good
conveyancers, could follow precedents as carefully and copy forms as
nicely. "I think," he adds, "their presence would mend the manners of
the court on the bench, not less than of the bar."

But though, if properly prepared, there would seem no reason why women
could not write out wills, deeds, mortgages, indentures, etc., yet I
doubt much whether they have the natural control and peculiar
aptitudes necessary for a counsellor at law. But no one will deny a
woman's capability to teach, even though so many have gone into the
office that have no right there; for mere ability is not enough.
Teachers, like artists, are born teachers, and the power to impart
knowledge is a free gift of nature.

Those, then, who accept the office without vocation for it, just for a
livelihood, both degrade themselves and it. The duties undertaken with
reluctance lack the spirit which gives light and interest; the
children suffer intelligently, the teacher morally. But if a woman
becomes a teacher, having a call which is unmistakable, she is doubly
blessed, and the world may drop the compassionate tone it is fond of
displaying toward her, or, if it is willing to do her justice, may pay
her more and pity her less.

The question of a woman's right to preach is one that conscience
rather than creeds or opinions must settle. It must be allowed that
her natural influence is, and always has been greater than any
delegated authority. She is born priestess over every soul she can
influence, and the question of her right to preach seems to be only
the question of her right to extend her influence. In this light she
has always been a preacher; it is her natural office, from which
nothing can absolve her. A woman must influence for good or evil every
one she comes in contact with; by no direct effort perhaps, but simply
because she must, it is her nature and her genius.

Whether women will ever do the world's highest work as well as men, I
consider, in all fairness, yet undecided. She has not had time to
recover from centuries of no-education and mis-education: She is only
just beginning to understand that neither beauty nor tact can take the
place of skill, and that to do a man's work she must prepare for it as
a man prepares; but even if time proves that in creative works she
cannot attain masculine grandeur of conception and power of execution,
she may be just as excellent in her own way; and there are and always
will be people who prefer Mrs. Browning to Milton, and George Eliot to
Lord Bacon.

At first sight there seems some plausibility in the assertion that
woman's physical inferiority will always render her unfit to do men's
work. But all physical excellence is a matter of cultivation; and it
would be very easy to prove that women are not naturally physically
weaker than men. In all savage nations they do the hardest work, and
Mr. Livingstone acknowledged that all his ideas as to their physical
inferiority had been completely overturned.

In China they do the work of men, with the addition of an infant tied
to their back. In Calcutta and Bombay, they act as masons, carry
mortar, and there are thousands of them in the mountain passes bearing
up the rocky heights baskets of stone and earth on their heads. The
women in Germany and the Low Countries toil equally with the men.
During the late war I saw American women in Texas keep the saddle all
day, driving cattle or superintending the operations in the
cotton-patch or the sugar-field. Nay, I have known them to plough,
sow, reap, and get wood from the cedar brake with their own hands.

Woman's physical strength has degenerated for want of exercise and
use; but it would be as unfair to condemn her to an inferior position
on this account as it was for the slave master to urge the necessity
of slavery because of the very vices slavery had produced. However, if
women are really to succeed they must give to their preparation for a
profession the freshest years of life. If it is only taken up because
marriage has been a failure, or if it is pursued with a divided mind,
they will always be behind-hand and inferior. But the compensation is
worth the sacrifice. A profession once acquired, they have home,
happiness, and independence in their hands; the future, as far as
possible, is secure, the serenity and calmness of assurance
strengthens the mind and sweetens the character, and from the
standpoint of a self-sustaining celibacy marriage itself assumes its
loftiest position; it is no longer the aim, but the crown and
completion of her life; for _she need not_, so she _will not_, marry
for anything but love, and thus her wifehood will lose nothing of the
grace and glory that belongs to it of right.



Little Children


The teachers of a people have need of a far greater wisdom than its
priests. The latter are but the mouthpiece of an oracle so clear that
a wayfaring man, though a fool, may understand it. The former are the
interpreters in the mysterious communings of ignorance with
knowledge.

"Only a few little children," says the self-sufficient and the
inefficient teacher. Twenty-five years' experience among little
children has taught me that in spiritual and moral perceptiveness, and
intuitive knowledge of character, they are far nearer to the angels
than we are.

Consider well what a mystery they are! Who ever saw two children
mentally alike? More fresh from the hands of the Maker, they still
retain the infinite variety which is one of the marks of his boundless
wealth of creation. In a few years, alas! they will take on the
stereotyped forms of the class to which they belong; but for a little
space heaven lies about them, and they dwell among us--so much of
_this_ world, and so much of _that_.

Twenty years ago I thought I understood little children; _to-day_ I am
sure I do not: for now I know that every one has a hidden life of its
own, which it knows instinctively is foolishness to the world, and
which therefore it never reveals. Now, if you can humble yourself, can
become as a little child, can win a welcome to this inner life, let me
tell you that you have come very near to the kingdom of heaven. Better
than the writings of schoolmen, better than the lives of the saints,
will such an experience be for you; therefore treat it with reverence
and tenderness; for it is an epistle written by the finger of God on
an innocent and guileless heart.

Consider, too, what sublimity of faith these little ones possess! The
angels believe; for they know and see; men believe--upon "good
security" and indisputable "evidences;" a little child believes in God
and loves its Saviour simply on your representation. O cold and
doubting hearts!--asking science and philosophy, height and depth, to
explain; terrified but not instructed by the eternal silence of the
infinite spaces above you!--humble yourselves, that you may be
exalted; become fools, that you may become wise! The human intellect
is a blind guide, but if you seek God through the _heart_, then "a
little child can lead you."

In your intercourse with young children, try and estimate rightly
_their delicate fancy_; for they are the true poets.

  "Not in entire forgetfulness,
  And not in utter darkness,
  But trailing clouds of glory do they come."

And I think it was of them God thought when he made the flowers and
butterflies. Their little voices are the natural key of music, their
graceful carriage and sprightly abandon the very poetry of motion. As
Michael Angelo's imprisoned angel pleaded out of dumb marble, so the
divinity within them pleads in the beauty of their forms, the clear
heaven of their eyes, the white purity of their souls, for knowledge
and enlargement.

"Only a little child!" O mother! saved by thy child-bearing in faith
and holiness; peradventure thou nursest an angel! O teacher! made
honorable by thine office, how knowest thou but what thy class is a
veritable school of the prophets, and that children "set for the rise
and the fall of many in Israel" are under thy hand?

We are accustomed to speak of the "simplicity" of a child, _I know_
that mysteries are revealed unto babes, hid from the men full of years
and high on the staff of worldly wisdom. And I remember that case in
old Jerusalem. He who spake as never man spake "took a little child
and set him in the midst" for an example. So, then, while given to our
charge they are also set for our instruction. Like them, we are to
receive the kingdom of God, believing without a cavil or a doubt in
our Father's declarations. Like them, we are to depend on our Father
in Heaven for our daily bread, being careful for nothing. Like them,
we are to retain no resentments, and if angry, to be easily pacified.
Like them, we are to be free from ambition and avarice, from pride and
disdain. These things are not natural to us, else Jesus had not said,
"Ye must _become_ as little children," and that except we do so _we
shall not enter the kingdom of Heaven_.

And that we might not err, God has set these visiting angels at our
firesides, and at our tables; he has made them bone of our bone and
flesh of our flesh; nay, he has placed them in the heavens like a
star,--

  "To beacon us to the abode
  Where the eternal are."

Pass by the Learned, the Mighty, and the Wise, for they are dust; but
let us reverence the "Little Children," for they are God's messengers
to us.



On Naming Children


There is a kind of physiognomy in the names of men and women as well
as in their faces; our Christian name is ourself in our thoughts and
in the thoughts of those who know us, and nothing can separate it from
our existence. Unquestionably, also, there is a luck in names, and a
certain success in satisfying the public ear. To select fortunate
names, the _bona nomina_ of Cicero, was anciently a matter of such
solicitude that it became a popular axiom, "A good name is a good
fortune." From a good name arises a good anticipation, a fact
novelists and dramatists readily recognize; indeed, Shakespeare makes
Falstaff consider that "the purchase of a commodity of good names" was
all that was necessary to propitiate good fortune.

Imagine two persons starting in life as rivals in any profession, and
without doubt he who had the more forcible name would become the more
familiar with the public, and would therefore, in a business sense, be
likely to be the more successful. We all know that there are names
that circulate among us instantly, and make us friends with their
owners, though we have never seen them. They are lucky people whose
sponsors thus cast their names in pleasant and fortunate places.

It is a matter, then, of surprise that among civilized nations the
generality, even of educated people, are so careless on this subject.
Now evil is as often wrought for want of thought as for want of
knowledge, and as a stimulant to thought in parents the following
suggestions are offered.

It is not well to call the eldest son after the father, and the eldest
daughter after the mother. The object of names is to prevent
confusion, and this is not attained when the child's name is the same
as the parent's. Nor does the addition of "junior" or "senior" rectify
the fault; besides, the custom provokes the disrespectful addition of
"old" to the father. There is another very subtle danger in calling
children after parents. Such children are very apt to be regarded with
an undue partiality. This is a feeling never acknowledged, perhaps,
but which nevertheless makes its way into the hearts of the best of
men and women. It is easier to keep out evil than to put it out.

If the surname is common, the Christian name should be peculiar.
Almost any prefix is pardonable to "Smith." John Smith has no
individuality left, but Godolphin Smith really reads aristocratically.
James Brown is no one, but Sequard Brown and Ignatius Brown are lifted
out of the crowd. Some people get out of this difficulty by iterating
the name so as to compel respect. Thus, Jones Jones, of Jones's Hall,
has a moral swagger about it that would be sure to carry it through.

It is often a great advantage to have a very odd name, a little
difficult to remember at first, but which when once learned bites
itself into the memory. For instance, there was Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy;
we have to make a hurdle-race over it, but once in the mind it is
never forgot.

Remember in giving names that the children when grown up may be in
situations where they will have frequently to sign their initials, and
do not give names that might in this situation provoke contemptuous
remark. For instance, David Oliver Green,--the initials make "dog;"
Clara Ann Thompson,--the initials spell "cat." Neither should a name
be given whose initial taken in conjunction with the surname suggests
a foolish idea, as Mr. P. Cox, or Mrs. T. Potts.

If the child is a boy, it may be equally uncomfortable for him to have
a long string of names. Suppose that in adult life he be comes a
merchant or banker, with plenty of business to do, then he will not be
well pleased to write "George Henry Talbot Robinson" two or three
hundred times a day.

It is not a bad plan to give girls only one baptismal name, so that if
they marry they can retain their maiden surname: as Elizabeth Barrett
Browning, Harriet Beecher Stowe. This is the practice among the
Society of Friends, and is worthy of more general adoption, for we
should then know at once on seeing the name of a lady whether she was
married, and if so, what her family name was. In Geneva and many
provinces of France the maiden family name of the wife is added to the
surname of the husband; thus, if a Marie Perrot married Adolphe Lauve,
they would after marriage write their names respectively, Adolphe
Perrot-Lauve and Marie Perrot-Lauve. The custom serves to distinguish
the bachelor from the married man, and is worthy of imitation; for if
Vanity unites in the same escutcheon the arms of husband and wife,
ought not Affection to blend their names?

Generally the modern "ie," which is appended to all names that will
admit of it, renders them senseless and insipid. Where is the
improvement in transforming the womanly loveliness of Mary into
Mollie? Imagine a Queen Mollie, or Mollie Queen of Scots! There is
something like sacrilege in such a transformation. Take Margaret, and
mutilate the pearl-like name into Maggie, and its purity like a halo
vanishes, and we have a very commonplace idea in its stead. If we must
have diminutives, commend us to the old style. Polly, Kitty, Letty,
Dolly, were names with some sense and work in them, and which we
pronounce like articulate sounds.

There is no greater injustice than the infliction of a whimsical or
unworld-like name on helpless infancy; for, as it is aptly said, "How
many are there who might have done exceedingly well in the world had
not their characters and spirits been totally _Nicodemused_ into
nothing!"

It is certainly a grave question if in the matter of Christian names
our regard for the dead past should blind our eyes to the future
comfort and success of our children. Why have we so many George
Washingtons? The name is a great burden for any boy. He will always
feel it. Inferiority to his namesake is inevitable. Besides, this
promiscuous use of great names degrades them; it is not a pleasant
thing to see a George Washington or a Benjamin Franklin in the police
news for petty larceny.

For the most part Old Testament names are defective in euphony, and
very inharmonious with English family names. The female names are
still less musical. Nothing can reconcile us to Naomi Brett, Hephzibah
Dickenson, or Dinah Winter. And to prove that the unpleasant effect
produced by such combinations does not result from the surnames
selected, let us substitute appellations unexceptionable, and the
result will be even worse,--Naomi Pelham, Hephzibah Howard, Dinah
Neville! A Hebrew Christian name requires, in most cases, a Hebrew
surname.

Some parents very wisely refuse for their children all names
susceptible of the _nicking_ process, thinking with Dr. Dove that "it
is not a good thing to be Tom'd or Bob'd, Jack'd or Jim'd, Sam'd or
Ben'd, Will'd or Bill'd, Joe'd or Jerry'd, as you go through the
world." Sobriquets are to be equally deprecated. We know a beautiful
woman who when a girl was remarkable for a wealth of rippling, curling
hair. Some one gave her the name of "Friz," and it still sticks to the
dignified matron. Wit, or would-be wit, delights to exercise itself
after this fashion, but a child's name is too precious a thing to be
ridiculed.

Fanciful names are neither always pretty nor prudent. Parents have
need of the gift of prophecy who call their children Grace, Faith,
Hope, Fortune, Love, etc. It is possible that their after-life may
turn such names into bitter irony.

For the sake of conciliating a rich friend never give a child a
disagreeable or barbaric name. It will be a thorn in his side as long
as he lives, and after all he may miss the legacy.

A child, too, may have such an assembly of unrhythmical names that he
and his friends have to go jolting over them all their lives. Suppose
a boy is called Richard Edward Robert. The ear in a moment detects a
jumble of sounds of which it can make nothing. If many Christian names
are decided upon, string them together on some harmonious principle;
names that are mouthfuls of consonants cannot be borne without bad
consequences to the owner.

The euphony of our nomenclature would be greatly improved by a
judicious adaptation of the Christian name to the surname. When the
surname is a monosyllable the Christian name should be long. Nothing
can reconcile the ear to such curt names as Mark Fox, Luke Harte, Ann
Scott; but Gilbert Fox, Alexander Hart, and Cecilia Scott are far from
despicable.

Among the many excellent Christian names, it is astonishing that so
few should be in ordinary use. The dictionaries contain lists of about
two hundred and fifty male and one hundred and fifty female names, but
out of these not more than twenty or thirty for each sex can be called
at all common.

Yet our language has many beautiful names, both male and female,
worthy of a popularity they have not yet attained. Among the male, for
instance,--Alban, Ambrose, Bernard, Clement, Christopher, Gilbert,
Godfrey, Harold, Michael, Marmaduke, Oliver, Paul, Ralph, Rupert,
Roger, Reginald, Roland, Sylvester, Theobald, Urban, Valentine,
Vincent, Gabriel, Tristram, Norman, Percival, Nigel, Lionel, Nicholas,
Eustace, Colin, Sebastian, Basil, Martin, Antony, Claude, Justus,
Cyril, etc.,--all of which have the attributes of euphony, good
etymology, and interesting associations.

And among female names why have we not more girls called by the noble
or graceful appellations of Agatha, Alethia, Arabella, Beatrice,
Bertha, Cecilia, Evelyn, Ethel, Gertrude, Isabel, Leonora, Florence,
Mildred, Millicent, Philippa, Pauline, Hilda, Clarice, Amabel, Irene,
Zoe, Muriel, Estelle, Eugenia, Euphemia, Christabel, Theresa, Marcia,
Antonia, Claudia, Sibylla, Rosabel, Rosamond, etc.?

There are some curious superstitions regarding the naming of children,
which, as a matter of gossip, are worth a passing notice. The
peasantry of Sussex believe that if a child receive the name of a dead
brother or sister, it also will die at an early age. In some parts of
Ireland it is thought that giving the child the name of one of its
parents abridges the life of that parent. It is generally thought
lucky to have the initials of Christian name and surname the same, and
also to have the initials spell some word. In the northwestern parts
of Scotland a newly named infant is vibrated gently two or three times
over a flame, with the words, "Let the flames consume thee now or
never;" and this lustration by fire is common to-day in the Hebrides
and Western Isles. There is a wide-spread superstition that a child
who does not cry at its baptism will not live; also one which
considers it specially unlucky if anything interferes to prevent the
baptism at the exact time first appointed. In many parts of Scotland
if children of different sexes are at the font, the minister who
attempted to baptize the girl before the boy would be interrupted. It
is said to be peculiarly unfortunate to the child if a priest that is
left-handed christens it. In Cumberland and Westmoreland a child going
to be christened carries with it a slice of bread and cheese, and this
is given to the first person met. In return the recipient must give
the babe three different things, and wish it health and fortune. We
have witnessed the last-mentioned custom very frequently, and once in
a farm-house at the foot of Saddleback Mountain we saw a very singular
method of deciding what the name of the child should be. Six candles
of equal length were named, and all lit at the same moment. The babe
was called after the candle which burned the longest.

We have mentioned these superstitions as curious proofs that our
ignorant ancestors considered the naming of children an important
event; and we should feel sorry if they tended to weaken in any
measure previous thoughts. For, careless as we may be of the fact, it
still remains a fact beyond doubt, that the name of a person is the
sound that suggests the idea of him or her,--it is a portrait painted
in letters. Therefore we cannot be too careful not to give one that
will be a shame or an embarrassment, or which will even condemn the
bearer to the commonplace.



The Children's Table


It is to be hoped that the best way of feeding children in order to
produce the finest possible physical development will ere long have
the amount of attention that is devoted to the improvement of horses,
cattle, and sheep. For both men and women have begun to realize that
mentally and spiritually we are largely dependent on the co-operation
of a healthy body; hence there has arisen a certain school, not
inaptly designated "Muscular Christianity."

The physical welfare of a child is the first consideration forced
upon the mother. Long before the intellect dawns, long before it
knows good from evil, there is important work to do. A healthy, pure
dwelling-place is to be begun for the lofty guests of mind and
soul. Alas, how little has this been considered! How often have
great minds been cramped by sickly, dwarfed bodies! How often have
aspiring souls been bound by earthly fetters of irritating pain!

Who shall deliver children from the unwise indulgences, fanciful
theories, and inherited mistakes of their parents? This is not the
province of religion; a mother may be intensely religious, and at the
same time cruelly ignorant in the treatment of the child,--whom yet
she loves with all her heart.

When men and women lived simply and naturally Nature in a large
measure took care of her own; but in our artificial life we must seek
the aid of Science to find our way back to Nature. And if science has
been able to teach us how to improve our breed of horses, and bring to
a state of physical perfection our cattle and sheep, by simply
selecting nutriments, she can also give the seeking mother directions
for building up a strong and healthy body for the immortal soul to
tarry in and work from. For, humiliating as we may regard it, we
cannot battle off this fact of God, that the vital processes in
animals and men are substantially the same.

In the dietary of children the two great mistakes are over-feeding and
under-feeding; but of the two evils the last is the worst. Repletion
is less injurious than inanition; and according to my observation
gluttony is the vice of adults rather than of children. If they do
exceed, the cause may generally be traced to the fact that they have
suffered a long want of the article they revel in. For instance, if at
rare intervals candies and sweetmeats are within their reach, they do
generally make themselves sick with an over supply of them; but this
is but the Nemesis that ever follows unnatural deprivations of any
kind.

Nothing is more necessary to a child than sugar. Its love of it is not
so much to please its palate as to satisfy an urgent craving of its
necessity. Sugar is so important a substance in the chemical changes
going on in the body that many other compounds have to be reduced to
sugar before they are available as heat-making constituents. In fact
the liver is a factory for transforming much of the nutriment we take,
in other forms, into sugar.

It may be said, "If sugar is a great heat-maker, so also is fat meat,
which most children very much dislike." The one fact proves the other.
Fat meat and sugar are both great heat-producers, but the child craves
sugar and dislikes fat because its weak organism can deal with the
sugar, but cannot manage the fat. Every mother must have noticed that
delicate children turn sick at fat meat and usually crave sweets. Poor
little things! they want something to make the vital fire burn more
rapidly. Sugar in proper proportions is fuel judiciously added; fat is
fuel they have not strength to assimilate, and therefore reject. Of
course no mother understands me to say that children should therefore
be fed on sugar; but only that they should have a fair and regular
proportion of it in some form or other; in which case they would feel
no more temptation to exceed in occasional opportunities.

Another dominant desire with growing children is fruit. They will eat
fruits, ripe or unripe; a sour apple or a ripe strawberry seems
equally acceptable. It is common to attribute summer complaints of all
kinds to them, and to carefully limit children in their use. The fact
is that all fruits contain a vegetable acid which is a powerful tonic
and one peculiarly acceptable to the stomach. Fruits ought to form a
part of every child's food all the year round,--fresh fruits in
summer, apples and oranges in winter. But they must be given regularly
with the meals, and not between them. They will then fulfil their
tonic office in the system, and never under ordinary circumstances do
the least harm.

How often have we seen children in mistaken kindness largely
restricted to bread and milk, puddings and vegetables; nay, told in
answer to their craving looks that "meat was not good for little boys
and girls." Now, consider first why adults eat meat. Is it not to
repair the loss we suffer from active work, the exhaustion from mental
efforts, and to supply afresh the vital warmth, much of which is lost
every day by simple radiation? In all these ways children usually
exhaust life quicker than adults. They run where we walk, they jump,
they skip, they are seldom still. Their studies are as severe a mental
strain to them as our business cares to us. Their bodies are quite as
much exposed to loss of heat by radiation as ours--in some cases more
so. But children have a most important demand on their vitality which
adults have not: they have to grow. Who, therefore, needs strong and
nutritious food more than children? They ought to have meat, plenty of
it, as much as they desire; and with the meat, bread and vegetables,
milk, sweets, and fruits. For variety is another grand condition of
healthy food,--no one kind of food (however good) being able to supply
all the different elements the body needs for perfect health and fine
development.

If children have any urgent desire for some particular diet it would
be well for parents to hesitate and investigate before denying them.
They have no means of coming to any secret understanding with the
child's stomach; but Nature generally asks pertinaciously for any
special necessity, and Nature is never wrong. Neither is it well to
limit the quantity any more than the kind of food given to children.
Their necessities vary with causes too involved for any parent
constantly to keep in view. The state of the weather, the amount of
electricity, or moisture in the atmosphere, study, sleep, exercise,
the condition of digestion, even the mental temper of the child might
differently influence the condition and demands of nearly every meal.
No dietary theory that did not consider all these and many more
conditions would be reliable. What, then, are we to do? Have more
confidence in natural instincts. If children ask "for more," ten to
one they feel more truly than we can reason on this subject.

On general principles it may be assumed children ask as directed by
Nature; they desire what she needs and as much as she needs. Of
course, all advice must be of a general nature; special limitations
are supposed in the power of every thoughtful mother. But the great
principle is to remember that energy depends on the amount, not of
food, but of nutritive food; for if a pound of one kind of food gives
as much nutriment as four pounds of another, surely that is best for
children (and adults too) which tries their digestion least.

What the next generation will be depends upon the physical, mental,
and moral training of the children of to-day. These children are the
to-morrow of society. Are they to be puny and dyspeptic, fretting and
worrying through life as through a task? Or, are they to be finely
developed, sweetbreathed, clear-eyed, light-spirited mediums for
divine aspirations and intellectual and material works?

O mothers! do not despise the humble-looking foundation-stone of
life--good health. You have the earliest building up of the body; see
that you spare no elements necessary for its perfection. Be liberal;
doubt your own theories rather than Nature; trust the child where you
are at a loss, just as a lost man throws the reins on his horse's neck
and trusts to something subtler than reason--instinct.

In whatever light the subject of children's food is regarded, the
great principle is we--cannot get power out of nothing. If the child
is to have health, energy, intellect, there must be present the
necessary physical conditions. These are not the result of accident,
but of generous consideration.



Intellectual "Cramming" of Boys


A little girl, who made a study of epitaphs, was greatly puzzled to
know "where all the bad people were buried." Perhaps just as great a
puzzle to a reflective mind is, What comes of all the promising boys?

We will allow, first, that a great deal of "promise" exists only in
the partiality of parents; that a bright, intense childhood is
frequently so different from the mechanical routine of adult life that
the simple difference strikes the parent as something remarkable,
whereas it is, perhaps, only a strong case of contrast between the
natural and the artificial. This is proven by the fact that as the boy
becomes part and parcel of the every-day world he gradually falls into
its ways, adopts its tone, and in no respect attempts to rise above
its level.

Fortunately, however, the change is so gradual that parents scarcely
perceive when or how they lost their exalted hopes; and by the time
that Jack or Will has imbibed a fair amount of knowledge, and settled
contentedly down to his desk and high stool, they also are well
pleased and inclined to forget that they had ever dreamt the boy might
sit upon the bench, or, perhaps, fill with honor the Presidential
chair.

Allowing such boys a very respectable minority, and allowing also a
large margin for that unfortunate class who

  "Wise so young, they say, do ne'er live long,"

there is still good reason for us to ask, What becomes of all the
promising boys?

We are inclined to arraign as the first and foremost of deceivers and
defrauders in this matter the modern educational art of _Cram_. It is
to education what adulteration is to commerce. It is far worse, for
here it is not money that is stolen, it is a parent's best and highest
hopes; it is a boy's whole future life and its success. For the system
rests upon a fallacy, namely, that it is possible for boys of twenty
to know everything, from the multiplication-table to metaphysics, from
Greek plays to theological dogmas.

To the average boy such intellectual feats are simply impossible; but
he is plucky and fertile in expedients; he is neither disposed to be
beaten nor able really to overtake his task, so he uses his brains
carefully, and makes the greatest possible show on the greatest
possible number of subjects.

Perhaps nothing in our present system of education is so demoralizing
and unjust as the custom of public examinations. In them interest and
vanity play into each other's hands; genuine acquirement and principle
"go to the wall." The teachers and the boys alike know that they are
never true criterions of progress, that they are seldom even fair
representations of the actual course of study. Weeks, months are spent
in preparations for the deceitful display; even then true merit, which
is generally modest by nature, does itself injustice, and vain
self-assurance comes off with flying colors.

The Cram teacher scatters seed over a large amount of mental surface,
instead of thoroughly cultivating the most promising portions; and he
brings before the parents and the public the few ears gleaned on all
the acres as samples of crops which he knows never will be gathered.
Yet to his own pedantic vanity, or his self-interest, he sacrifices
the prime of many a fine boy's life. Therefore we are disposed to
believe that if parents would inexorably refuse to sanction these
pretentious public displays, there would be probably a much less
accumulation of bare facts, but a far greater cultivation of natural
abilities, and a far more thorough development of decided aptitudes.

Mechanical drudgery, instead of intelligent labor, is the inevitable
method where cramming a boy, instead of educating him, is the favorite
system. No mental faculties, except the memory, receive any
discipline, and the knowledge disappears as fast as it was gained. All
taste for laborious habits of thought are lost, and if a boy
originally possessed a love for learning he is soon disgusted at what
his simple nature tells him is pretence and unreal, and judging the
true by a false standard he conceives an honest disgust for
intellectual labor, and pronounces it all a sham.

Few boys can even mentally go through a course of "cramming" and come
out uninjured. The majority of the finest intellects develop tardily,
and their superiority is in fact greatly dependent upon the staying
powers conferred by physical strength and wisely considered
conditions. There are of course exceptions, where an inherited force
of genius stamps the boy from the first and defies all systems to
crush it. But it is the average boy, and not the exceptional one, that
must be considered in all methods of education.

In this matter boys are not to be blamed. They naturally accept the
master's opinions as to the value of his plan; they rather enjoy a
neck-and-neck race with each other in superficial acquirements, and
the whole tendency of our social life supports the tempting theory.
Every one wants to possess without the trouble of acquiring; every one
would have a reputation without the labor of earning it. In an age
which prides itself upon the speed with which it does everything,
which makes a merit of doing whatever is to be done in the shortest
and quickest way possible, it is easy to perceive how a certain class
of teachers, and parents too, would be willing to believe that the old
up-hill road to knowledge might be graded and lined and made available
for rapid transit.

But nothing can be more illogical than to apply social rules and
conditions to mental ones. The former are constantly changing, the
latter obey fixed and immutable laws. There is not, there never has
been, there never will be, any short cuts to universal knowledge; and
the boy who is made to waste time seeking one will have either to
relinquish his object altogether, or else, turning back to the main
road, find his early companions who kept to it hopelessly ahead of
him. Learning is a plant that grows slowly and whose fruit must be
waited for. It is a long time, even after having learned anything,
_that we know it well_.



The Servant-Girl's Point of View


A great deal has been said lately on the servant-girl question, always
from the mistresses' point of view; and as no _ex-parte_ evidence is
conclusive, I offer for the servant-girl side some points that may
help to a better understanding of the whole subject.

It is said, on all hands, that servants every year grow more idle,
showy, impudent, and independent. The last charge is emphatically
true, and it accounts for and includes the others. But then this
independence is the necessary result of the world's progress, in which
all classes share. Steam has made it easy for families to travel, who,
without cheap locomotion, would never go one hundred miles from home.
It has also made it easy for servants to go from city to city. When
wages are low and service is plenty in one place, a few dollars will
carry them to where they are in request.

Fifty years ago very few servants read, or cared to read. They are now
the best patrons of a certain class of newspapers; they see the "Want
columns" as well as other people; and they are quite capable of
appreciating the lessons they teach and the advantages they offer. The
national increase of wealth has also affected the position of
servants. People keep more servants than they used to keep; and
servants have less work to do. People live better than they used to
live, and servants, as well as others, feel the mental uplifting that
comes from rich and plentiful food.

But one of the main causes of trouble is that a mistress even yet
hires her servant with some ancient ideas about her inferiority. She
forgets that servants read novels, and do fancy work, and write lots
of letters; and that service can no longer be considered the humble
labor of a lower for a superior being. Mistresses must now dismiss
from their minds the idea of the old family servant they have learned
to meet in novels; they must cease to look upon service as in any way
a family tie; they must realize and practically acknowledge the fact
that the relation between mistress and servant is now on a purely
commercial basis,--the modern servant being a person who takes a
certain sum of money for the performance of certain duties. Indeed the
condition has undergone just the same change as that which has taken
place in the relation between the manufacturer and his artisans, or
between the contractor and his carpenters and masons.

It is true enough that servants take the money and do not perform
the duties, or else perform them very badly. The manufacturer,
the contractor, the merchant, all make the same complaint; for
independence and social freedom always step _before_ fitness for
these conditions, because the condition is necessary for the
results, and the results are not the product of one generation.
Surely Americans may bear their domestic grievances without much
outcry, since they are altogether the consequences of education
and progress, and are the circumstances which make possible much
higher and better circumstances.

For just as soon as domestic service is authoritatively and publicly
made a commercial bargain, and all other ideas eliminated from it,
service will attract a much higher grade of women. The independent,
fairly well-read American girl will not sell her labor to women who
insist on her giving any part of her personality but the work of her
hands. She feels interference in her private affairs to be an
impertinence on any employer's part. She does not wish any mistress to
take an interest in her, to advise, to teach, or reprove her. She
objects to her employer being even what is called "friendly." All she
asks is to know her duties and her hours, and to have a clear
understanding as to her work and its payment. And when service is put
upon this basis openly, it will draw to it many who now prefer the
harder work, poorer pay, but larger independence, of factories.

Servants are a part of our social system, but our social system is
being constantly changed and uplifted, and servants rise with it. I
remember a time in England when servants who did not fulfil their
year's contract were subject to legal punishment; when a certain
quality of dress was worn by them, and those who over-dressed did so
at the expense of their good name; when they seldom moved to any
situation beyond walking distance from their birthplace; when, in
fact, they were more slaves than servants. Would any good woman wish
to restore service to this condition?

On the servant's part the root of all difficulty is her want of
respect for her work; and this, solely because her work has not yet
been openly and universally put upon a commercial basis. When domestic
service is put on the same plane as mechanical service, when it is
looked upon as a mere business bargain, then the servant will not feel
it necessary to be insolent and to do her work badly, simply to let
her employer know how much she is above it. Much has been done to
degrade service by actors, newspapers, and writers of all kinds giving
to the domestic servant names of contempt as "flunkies," "menials,"
etc., etc. If such terms were habitually used regarding mechanics, we
might learn to regard masons and carpenters with disdain. Yet domestic
service is as honorable as mechanical service, and the woman who can
cook a good dinner is quite as important to society as the man who
makes the table on which it is served.

Yet, whether mistresses will recognize the change or not, service has
in a great measure emancipated itself from feudal bonds. Servants have
now a social world of their own, of which their mistresses know
nothing at all. In it they meet their equals, make their friends, and
talk as they desire. Without unions, without speeches, and without
striking,--because they can get what they want without striking,--they
have raised their wages, shortened their hours, and obtained many
privileges. And the natural result is an independence--which for lack
of proper expression asserts itself by the impertinence and
self-conceit of ignorance--that has won more in tangible rights than
in intangible respect.

Mistresses who have memories or traditions are shocked because
servants do not acknowledge their superiority, or in any way
reverence their "betters." But reverence for any earthly thing is the
most un-American of attitudes. Reverence is out of date and
offensively opposed to free inquiry. Parents do not exact it, and
preachers do not expect it,--the very title of "Rev." is now a verbal
antiquity. Do we not even put our rulers through a course of
hand-shaking in order to divest them of any respect the office might
bring? Why, then, expect a virtue from servants which we do not
practise in our own stations?

It is said, truly enough, that servants think of nothing but dress.
Alas, mistresses are in the same transgression! This is the fault of
machinery. When servants wore mob-caps and ginghams, mistresses wore
muslins and merinos, and were passing fine with one good silk dress.
Machinery has made it possible for mistresses to get lots of dresses,
and if servants are now fine and tawdry, it is because there is a
general leaning that way. Servants were neat when every one else was
neat.

To blame servants for faults we all share is really not reasonable. It
must be remembered that women of all classes dress to make themselves
attractive, and attractive mainly to the opposite sex. What the young
ladies in the parlor do to make themselves beautiful to their lovers,
the servants in the kitchen imitate. Both classes of young women are
anxious to marry. There is no harm in this desire in either case. With
the hopes of the young ladies we do not meddle; why then interfere
about nurse and the policeman? service is not an elysium under the
most favorable circumstances. No girl gets fond of it, and a desire to
be mistress of her own house--however small it may be--is not a very
shameful kicking against Providence.

The carrying out of three points, would probably revolutionize the
whole condition of service:--

_First._ The relation should be put upon an absolutely commercial
basis; and made as honorable as mechanical, or factory, or store
service.

_Second._ Duties and hours should be clearly defined. There should be
no interference in personal matters. There should be no more personal
interest expected, or shown, than is the rule between any other
employer and employee.

_Third._ If it were possible to induce yearly engagements, they should
be the rule; for when people know they have to put up with each other
for twelve months, they are more inclined to be patient and
forbearing; they learn to make the best of each other's ways; and
bearing becomes liking, and habit strengthens liking, and so they go
on and on, and are pretty well satisfied.



Extravagance


The Anglo-Saxon race is inherently extravagant. The lord and leader of
the civilized world, it clothes itself in purple and fine linen, and
lives sumptuously every day, as a prerogative of its supremacy.

This trait is a very early one, and the barbaric extravagance of "The
Field of the Cloth of Gold" only typified that passion of the race for
splendid apparel and accessories which in our day has reached a point
of general and prodigal pomp and ostentation.

No other highly civilized nations have this taste for personal
parade and luxurious living to the same extent. The French, who
enjoy a reputation for all that is pretty and elegant, are really
parsimonious, and it is as natural for a Frenchman to hoard his
money as it is for a dog to bury his bone, while a Dutchman or a
German can grow rich on a salary which keeps an American always
scrambling on the verge of bankruptcy.

Some time ago Lord Derby said: "Englishmen are the most extravagant
race in the world, or, at least, only surpassed by the Americans." And
the "surpassing" in this direction is so evident to any one familiar
with the two countries that it requires no demonstration,--an American
household, even in the middle classes, being a model school for
throwing away the most money for the least possible returns.

American women have a reputation for lavish expenditure that is
world-wide, but they are not more extravagant than American men. If
one spends money on beautiful toilets and splendidly dreary
entertainments, the other flings it away on the turf, on cards or
billiards, or in masculine prodigalities still more objectionable. In
most fashionable houses the husband and wife are equally extravagant,
and the candle blazes away at both ends.

To foreigners, the most noticeable extravagance of Americans is in the
matter of flowers. Winter or summer, women of very modest means must
have flowers for their girdle. They will pay fifty cents for a rose or
two when half-dollars are by no means plentiful, and it is such a
pretty womanly taste that no man has the heart to grumble at it; only,
if the women themselves would add up the amount of money spent in this
transitory luxury, say during three months, they would be astonished
at their own thoughtlessness.

For of all pleasures flower-buying is the most evanescent; before the
day is over the fading buds are cast into the refuse cart, and the
money might just as well have been cast into the street.

As for the amount spent in floral displays at weddings, funerals,
theatres, balls, and dinners, it must be presumed that people who thus
waste hundreds of dollars on articles that are useless in a few hours
have the hundreds of dollars to throw away, and that they enjoy the
pastime of making floral ducks and drakes with their money. But if
they do not enjoy it, then why do they not imitate the economy of Beau
Brummel, who, when compelled by his debts to make some sacrifice of
luxuries, resolved to begin retrenchment by curtailing the rose water
for his bath?

Large floral outlays are just as fantastic an extravagance, for though
flowers in moderation are beautiful, in excess they are vulgar, and
even disagreeable. The Greeks, who made no mistakes about beauty and
fitness, contented themselves with a garland and a rose for their wine
cup. They would never have danced and feasted and wedded themselves in
a charnel-house of dying flowers.

Our dressing and dining is done on the same immense scale. Lucullus
might preside at our feasts, and queens envy the jewels and costumes
of our women. Perhaps the size of the country and its transcendent
possibilities in every direction instinctively incite those who have
the means to lavishness of outlay. People who live under bright high
skies, and whose horizons are wide and far-reaching, imbibe a
largeness of expression which is not satisfied with mere words; and if
we look at our extravagance in this way, we may regard it as a
national trait, developed from our natural position and advantages.

Of course, it is easy to say that Americans are lavish because, as Dr.
Watts puts it, "it is their nature to" be, but the real reason for the
overgrown luxury of the last two or three decades is to be found in
the rapid increase of the vulgar rich, the very last class worthy of
our imitation. Are not the absurd blunders of the poor man who strikes
oil a common subject for witticisms and stories?

Profuse display will probably be the only social grace the newly rich
can dispense. So, then, if wealth increases more rapidly than
culture, it is sure, in the very nature of things, to be squandered
ostentatiously; for the men whose minds are in a stunted state, being
fit for nothing else, will throw their money away on cards or horses
or any other fashionable form of dissipation; and the women in the
same mental incompleteness, knowing nothing but how to dress and
dance, when they have wealth thrust upon them will be able to find no
better use for it than to dress and dance all the more conspicuously.

This senseless love of display, once inaugurated in a city set or in a
small town, is apt to take the lead: first, because all the snobs will
cater to it; second, because sensible people know that they cannot
start a reform movement without making themselves unpopular, and going
to a great deal of trouble and expense.

For, however extravagant the machinery of society is, it has the
enormous advantage of being there, and few people can afford to live
against it. For to do as every one else does, and to go with the
stream, is much easier than to set good examples that no one wants to
follow. Indeed it takes a tremendous exercise of pluck, thought,
trouble, time, and energy to reduce an establishment that has been an
extravagant one to a more economical footing.

The justification of private extravagant expenditure is found in the
necessity of a class who will have leisure to encourage the
intellectual tastes and ambitions of the nation. And this end might be
accomplished if only matters could be so arranged that a shower of
gold should descend on the right people in the right place at the
right time.

But wealth is no more to the worthy than the race is to the strong,
and so it often finds outlets for dispersion for which there is no
justification, and whose sole object is that sensual life pictured in
"Lothair,"--fine houses, great retinues, costly clothing, clubs,
yachts, conservatories, etc., etc.,--in fact, an existence without a
crumpled rose-leaf, that would make a man a mixture of the sybarite
and satyr. Such specimens of humanity may occasionally be found in
America, but they are not yet a distinct class, nor are they likely to
become one in our pushing, up-and-down, constantly changing society.
Indeed, amid the earnest strivings, the intellectual aspirings and the
mechanical wonders of steam and electricity which environ us, a
semi-monster of the Lothair type would be as incongruous as a faun on
the Avenue or a Pagan temple on mid-Broadway.

If we would only take the trouble to examine the facts before our eyes
we have constantly in our university towns the proof that high
culture and moderation in dress and living go together. Take
Cambridge, Mass., for instance; its very best society is singularly
unostentatious, and the wives and daughters of its educated
dignitaries entertain without extravagance, and look for respect and
admiration from some loftier standpoint than their dress trimmings.



Ought we to Wear Mourning?


This is a question that from the earliest days of Christianity has at
times agitated the Church. It was specially dominant in the first
centuries, when every divergence from Jewish or Pagan rites was almost
an act of faith. Now the Jews, after the death of their relatives,
wore sackcloth during their time of mourning, which lasted from seven
to forty days. They sat on the ground, and ate their food off the
earth; they neither dressed themselves, nor made their beds, nor went
into the bath, nor saluted any one. This excess of grief rarely lasted
long; then a great feast was made for the surviving friends of the
dead; or the bread and meat were placed upon his grave for the
benefit of the poor. (Tobit iv. 17; Eccles. xxx. 18; and Baruch vi.
27.)

It was natural for the Christian, with the hope set before him, to
oppose this despairing sorrow, and we find Saint Jerome praising those
who partially abandoned it; while Cyprian declares he was "ordered by
Divine revelation to preach that Christians should not lament their
brethren delivered from the world, nor wear any mourning habits for
them, seeing that they were gone to put on white raiment, nor give
occasion for unbelievers by lamenting those as lost whom we affirm to
be with God."

As the Church lapsed from its simplicity into forms and ceremonies,
vestments of all kinds, and for every purpose and occasion, gained
importance; and the first serious protestation against mourning
garments came from the Quakers. To these spiritual men and women it
seemed absurd to wear black garments for those whom they believed had
put on everlasting white. The majority of the early Methodists held
the same opinion, though in a less positive form. It is remarkable,
however, that Christians alone assume the woeful, despairing black
garments which seem to denote not only the loss of life, but the end
of hope. Ancient Egypt wore yellow in memory of departed friends; the
Greeks and Romans used white garments for mourning; the Chinese also
consecrate white to the services of death, and the Mohammedans wear
blue, because it is the color of the visible heavens.

Therefore I ask, if we must wear a distinct dress to typify our
sorrow, why black? Black has now become objectionable from having lost
all the sacred meaning it once possessed. It is no longer the livery
of grief. The blonde belle wears it because it sets off her fine
complexion; the brunette, because it admits of the vivid contrasts so
suitable to her brilliant beauty. The prudent wear it because it is
economical and ladylike; and all women know that it imparts grace and
dignity, and drapes beautifully; so, for these and many other reasons,
it has within the last fifty years become an every-day dress, one just
as likely to express vanity as grief.

The reasons set forth by the Quakers for its abandonment cover the
ground, and are at least worthy of our consideration. They are: First,
that mourning had its origin in a state of barbarism, and prior to the
revelation of "life eternal through Jesus Christ," and is therefore
not to be observed in civilized and Christianized countries. Second,
that the trappings of grief are childish where the grief is real, and
mockery where it is not. Third, that mourning garments are absolutely
useless: for if they are intended to remind us of our affliction, true
grief needs no such reminder; if to point out our grief to others,
they are an impertinence, for true sorrow courts seclusion; and if as
a consolation, they are only powerful to remind of an irrevocable
past. Fourth, their inconvenience: too often the house of death is
turned by them into a busy work-shop; and the souls bowed down with
grief are made to trouble themselves about mourning ornaments and
becoming weeds. Fifth, their bad moral influence: the gracefulness of
the costume stills the grief that ought to be stilled by religion; and
as in a large family there must be many mourners in form only, the
equivocation of dress is a sort of moral equivocation. Sixth, their
expense. This is really a great item in the resources of the poor, and
often straitens for years; besides causing them, in the hour of their
desolation, to be so worried and anxious about the robing of the body
as to miss all the lessons God intended for the soul.

The advocates for mourning plead the veiling of the heavens in black
at the death of Christ; and the universality and continuance of the
custom, in all ages, all countries, and all faiths. I am aware that
the subject is one in which strangers cannot intermeddle; the question
when it arises must be settled by every heart individually. But, at
least, if mourning garments are to be worn, let us not defeat every
argument in their favor by fashioning them of the richest stuffs, and
in the most stylish manner. This is to ticket them as the thinnest of
mockeries. And after all, if we approve mourning, and wish our friends
to hold us in remembrance after death, can we not find a better way
than by crape and bombazine? Yes, crape and bombazine wear out, and
must finally be cast off; but the "memorial of virtue is immortal.
When it is present, men take example of it, and when it is gone, they
desire it: it weareth a crown, and triumpheth forever."



How To Have One's Portrait Taken


Having one's portrait taken is no longer an isolated event in one's
life. It has become a kind of domestic and social duty, to which even
though personally opposed, one must gracefully submit, unless he would
incur the odium of neglecting the wishes of his family circle and the
complimentary requests of his acquaintances.

It would seem at first sight that nothing is easier than to go to a
photographer's and get a good likeness. Nothing is really more
uncertain and disappointing. In turning over the albums of our
friends, how often we pass the faces of acquaintances and don't know
them at all! How is this? Simply because, at the moment when the
picture was taken, the original was unlike herself. She was nervous,
her head was screwed in a vise, her position had been selected for
her, and she had been ordered to look at an indicated spot, and keep
still. Such a position was like nothing in her real life, and the
expression on the face was just as foreign. The features might be
perfectly correct, but that inscrutable something which individualizes
the face was lacking.

Now if the amenities of social life require us to have our pictures
done, "it were as well they were well done," and much toward this end
lies within the sitter's choice and power.

First as to the selection of the artist. It is a great mistake to
imagine that photography is a mere mechanical trade. There is as much
difference between two photographers as between two engravers. Nor
will a fine lens alone produce a good picture. The pose of the sitter,
the disposition of lights and shadows, the arrangement of drapery, are
of the greatest consequence. A good artist has almost unlimited power
in this direction. He can render certain parts thinner by plunging
them into half-tone or by burying their outline in the shade, and he
can deepen and augment other portions by surrounding them with light.
Thus, if the head is too small for beauty, he can increase its size by
throwing the light on the face; and if it is too large, he can
diminish it by choosing a tint that would throw one half of the face
into shadow.

If the artist has a lens which perpetually changes its focus, the
result is a portrait in which the outlines are delicately soft and
undefined. A _view lens_, or one that is perfectly flat, occupies
nearly two minutes to complete the likeness, and the consequence is,
the sitter moves slightly, and the required softness is obtained in an
accidental manner. It is evident, therefore, that the most rapidly
taken pictures are not necessarily the best. Then people have a
hundred different aspects, and to seize the best and reproduce it is
the function of genius, and not of chemicals.

Having selected a good artist, and one, also, whose position has
enabled him to secure the best tools, the next duty of the sitter
regards herself and her costume. In photography a good portrait may be
quite nullified by the choice of bad colors in dress. Finery is the
curse of the artist, but if he works in oils he can leave it out or
tone it down. In photography, as the sitter comes, so she must be
taken, with all her excellences or her imperfections on her head.

The colors most luminous to the eye, as red, yellow, orange, are
almost without action; green acts feebly; blue and violet are
reproduced very promptly. If, then, a person of very fair complexion
were taken in green, orange, or red, the lights would be very
prominent, and the portrait lack energy and detail. The best of all
dresses is black silk,--_silk_, not bombazine, or merino, or any
cottony mixture, as the admirable effect depends on the gloss of the
silk, which makes it full of subdued and reflected lights that give
motion and play to the drapery. A dead-black dress without this
shimmer would be represented by a uniform blotch; a white dress looks
like a flat film of wax or a piece of card-board; but a combination of
black net or lace over white is very effective, though rarely ventured
upon. An admirable softness and depth of color are given to
photographs by sealskin and velvet.

Complexion must be considered with dress. Blondes can wear much
lighter colors than brunettes. Brunettes always make the best pictures
when taken in dark dresses, but neither blondes nor brunettes look
well in positive white. Are any pictures so universally ugly as bridal
ones? All violent contrasts of color spoil a picture, and should be
particularly guarded against; and jewelry imparts a look of
vulgarity.

Blondes suffer most in photographic pictures; their golden hair loses
all its brilliancy, and their blue eyes, so lovely to the poet, are
perplexity to the photographer. Before facing the lens, blondes should
powder their yellow hair nearly white; it is then brought to about the
same photographic tint as in nature.

Freckles, which are hardly any blemish in the natural face, become, on
account of their yellow tint, very unpleasantly distinct in a
photographic picture, and often give to the face a decidedly spotted
look. They are easily disguised for the occasion. There ought to be in
the dressing-room of every studio a mixture of a little oxide of zinc
and glycerine; this is to be thinned with rose-water till of the
consistence of cream, and applied to the face with a piece of sponge
previous to the photographing process. It leaves the skin a delicate
white color, and masks all freckles and discolorations. Let a lady
with freckles try her picture first without this mixture, and again
after the sponge and the cosmetic, and the value of the receipt will
be at once appreciated. Its use has long been advocated by the
_British Journal of Photography_.

In connection with this fact we may offer a few words of advice to
ladies whose skins are apt to tan and freckle when exposed to the
summer sun. Blue is, of all colors, most readily affected by light;
and yellow is, of all colors, the least readily susceptible to it. If,
then, a fine complexion is desired, the blue veil must be rigorously
discarded, however becoming. Green could take its place, but a little
yellow net would be better to save a delicate complexion than all the
washes and Kalydors ever invented. Freckles and tan are nothing more
than the darkening of the salts of iron in the blood by the action of
light; and as blue is, of all colors, most easily affected by it, as
we have said, any one can see how destructive to a fine skin a blue
veil must be in sunny weather.

If the photograph is to be colored, the shade of the costume is not
nearly of so much importance; but it may always be borne in mind that
close-fitting light garments increase the size of the head, hands, and
feet, and that a flowing ample dress renders these parts light and
delicate. The advantage of coloring photographs is very great, if the
artist be an able and judicious one, for that _hardness_ of outline,
which is more artificial than natural, may be in a great measure
remedied by a clever brush; only, always object to _solid_ colors; the
most transparent water-colors alone should be used. However, it is a
disputed question whether artificial coloring, however well done,
improves photographs, since it certainly, in some measure, robs them
of that accuracy and that air of purity which are the distinctive
claims of the art. The next improvement in this method of limning
faces will undoubtedly be the compelling of the sun--the source of
all color--to paint the pictures he draws; and a number of recent
facts point to this improvement as very probable within a short time.

Never permit yourself to be the lay figure of a photographer's ideal
landscapes. The cutting up of a portrait with balustrades, pillars,
and gay parterres is fatal to the effect of the figure, which should
be the only object to strike the eye. No photographic portrait looks
so well as one with a perfectly plain background, but if some
accessory is desired, then see that it does not turn the central
figure into ridicule. If you have always lived in some modest home, do
not be made to stand in marble halls or amid splendid imaginary
domains. Young ladies reading in full evening costume, with water and
swans behind them, or standing in trailing silks and laces in a
mountain pass, are ridiculous enough. We saw a few days ago the face
of a lovely girl looking out of a Champagne basket. The picture was
artistically taken, but the extravagant conceit of the surroundings,
utterly at variance with the original's character, completely spoiled
the picture. We have in mind also a famous belle sitting in an
elaborate toilet in a room full of books and materials for writing and
study, though all her little world knows that she never reads aught
but the lightest of novels, and never writes anything but an
invitation or a love-letter. Actresses taken in character may require
an elaborate artificial background in order to assist the illusion,
but private ladies, as a rule, look infinitely better without it.

In ladies' portraits the setting-off of beauty is the thing to be
borne in mind. This, in a photograph, is, in a great measure, a
question of lights and shadows, and of their distribution. For every
face there is a light and a shadow to be specially selected as the one
that will show it to the best advantage. The most becoming light is
one level with, or even somewhat beneath, the face, it being a great
mistake to suppose the foot-lights on the stage unbecoming. A top
light, such as we get in ordinary photographic rooms, augments the
projection of the forehead, and throws a deep shadow over the eyes.
The bridge of the nose, the lower lip, and chin separate themselves,
as it were, in clear lights, from the rest of the face, and such an
effect is very unbecoming and inappropriate for a young girl.

If the features are prominent, a clear bright light increases very
decidedly that prominence, and also imparts a peculiar hardness to the
expression that has probably no existence in the model. Therefore
insist that, as far as possible, the light from above shall be got rid
of, and a light from the side brought into use.

There is as much character in the human figure as in the face;
consequently full-length portraits are best, because they add to the
facial resemblance the attitude and peculiarities of the figure. If
the portrait is half-size, then the attitude ought to indicate the
position of the lower extremities. In bust portraits the head is
everything, the bust merely sustains and indicates its size and
proportion. The head, however, should never be represented without the
bust, for the effect of such a portrait is a total want of unity; it
offers no point of comparison by which the rest of the body can be
judged,--a matter of great importance, as this is one of the most
striking characteristics of the individual.

A _carte de visite_ is a more agreeable likeness than a larger one,
because it is taken with the middle of the lens, where it is truest;
hence it is never out of drawing. Also, it hides rather than
exaggerates any roughness of the face; and, again, it is so moderate
in price that we can afford to distribute the pictures generously.

Photographs have a bad name for durability, and when we look over our
albums and see those that were once strong and expressive now pale and
faded, we are forced to admit that their beauty is evanescent. But
this disadvantage is very much the fault of the artist. There is
nothing in the chemical constitution of photographs--formed as they
are by the combination of the precious metals--to make them
evanescent. The trouble lies in the last process through which they
pass. This process leaves them impregnated with a destructive
chemical, and the removal of all traces of it is a difficult and
tedious thing. To be finished effectually, the pictures ought to be
bathed for a day in a good body of water constantly agitated and
changed. Artists who are jealous of their art and of their personal
reputation insist on this process being thoroughly attended to, but
with inferior photographers the temptation to neglect it is very
great, especially as in many cases the vicious chemical adds to the
present brilliancy of the picture. They are further tempted by the
impatience of sitters, who are often importunate for an immediate
finish of their pictures. But if a durable portrait is wanted, ladies
must allow the artist time for the proper cleansing of their
photograph.

To the large majority of people the first interview with their
photographic portrait is a heavy disappointment. They express
themselves by an eloquent silence, turn it this way and that, hold it
near and far off. After a little while they become used to it in its
velvet frame, though they never in their heart acknowledge its
truthfulness. Again, there are others to whom photography is very
favorable, and they show to more advantage in their pictures than
ever they did in reality. These last are people whose features
are well balanced and proportioned, but who are not generally
considered beautiful. Faces dependent for beauty on their mobility
and expression suffer most, and are indeed, in their finer moods,
almost untranslatable by this process.

Still, setting aside all artistic considerations, photographic
portraits have a great social value, not only because they fairly
indicate the _personnel_ of their models, but because they so
faithfully represent textures that we can form a very good idea from a
_carte de visite_ of the social position of the sitter, and
incidentally, from the cut, style, and material of the dress, a very
good notion also of their moral calibre.

Many things are permissible in photographic portraits--which may be
retaken every few months--that would justly be deprecated in a
finished oil portrait destined to go down with houses and lands to
unborn generations. In such a picture any intrusion of the imagination
is an impertinence if made at the slightest expense of truth.

The great value of an oil portrait is this: the divine, almost
intangible light of expression hovering over the face is seized on by
living skill and intellect, and imprisoned in colors. The sitter is
not taken in one special moment, when his eyes are fixed and his
muscles rigid, but in a free study of many hours the characteristics
of the face are learned, and some felicitous expression caught and
fixed forever. This is what gives portrait painting its special value,
and drives ordinary photographic portraits out of the realms of art
into those of mechanism.

Artists have various ways of treating their sitters. Some throw them
into a Sir-Joshua-like attitude, and put in a Gainsborough background.
Others compass the face all over, and map it out like a chart, taking
elevations of every mole and dimple. But whenever an artist feels
unsafe away from his compasses, and cannot trust himself, sitters
should not trust him.

There is a real pleasure in sitting to a master in his art, a real
weariness and disgust in sitting to a tyro. It must be remembered that
not only is the best expression to be caught, but that the _features_
of any face vary so much under physical changes and mental moods that
their differences may actually be measured with a foot-rule. An
ordinary artist will measure these distances; an extraordinary artist
will catch their subtle effects, and will draw the features as well as
the expression at their very best.

A really fine oil portrait should look as well near by as it does at a
distance.

Suffer no artist to leave out blemishes which contribute to the
character of the original; ugly or pretty, unless a portrait is a
likeness, it is worthless. There are very clever artists who cannot
paint a true portrait, because they leave every picture redolent of
themselves. Thus Bartolozzi in engraving Holbein's heads, made
everything Bartolozzi. But in a portrait the individuality of the
sitter should permeate and usurp the whole canvas, so that in looking
at it we should think only of the person represented, and quite forget
the artist who brought him before us.

It is an axiom that every full-length portrait requires a curtain and
a column, every half-length a table, every kit-kat a full face. But
surely such rules betray barrenness of invention. Every good position
cannot be said to have been exhausted. Why should not every portrait
be treated as a part of an historical picture in which the sitter's
position and background and accessories produced the tone and feeling
most suitable to his ordinary life? Raphael in his portrait of Leo the
Tenth exhibits a faithful study of such subordinates. There is a
prayer-book with miniatures, a bell on the table, and a mirror at the
back of the chair reflecting the whole scene. One of Rembrandt's most
charming portraits is that of his mother cutting her nails with a pair
of scissors.

Never suffer any artist to slur over or hide the hand. The hand is a
feature full of beauty and individuality. Any one who has noticed how
Vandyck studied and worked out its peculiarities, what beauty and
expression he gave to it, will never undervalue its power as an
exponent of personality again.

The portraits of men or women occupying prominent positions should
always have their name and that of the artist on the back. If this
had been done in times past, how many nameless portraits, now of
little value, would be held in high estimation! From the time of Henry
the Eighth to the time of Charles the First it was usual to insert in
a corner the armorial bearings of the person represented. This did
not, indeed, accurately identify the individual, but it made it easier
to determine. There is a masterpiece of Vandyck's in the National
Gallery of England that goes by the name of "Gevartius." But no one
knows who Gevartius was. Here is an old man's head made memorable for
all time,--a head which would be thought cheap at $10,000, and which,
if it were for sale, would attract connoisseurs from all parts of the
civilized world, and it is without a name. How much more valuable and
interesting it would be if its history were known! Therefore no
feeling of modesty should prevent eminent characters from insuring the
identity of their pictures. Let us imagine a picture of Abraham
Lincoln and one of Professor Morse two hundred years hence, with the
name attached in one case, and a mere tradition of identity in the
other, and it will be easy to estimate the difference in value.

Americans have been accused of an undue taste for portraiture; the
taste has its foundation in the character of the nation. It
corresponds with that estimation of the personal worth of a man, and
that full appreciation of individual independence, which form such
important elements in our national character.



The Crown of Beauty


The glory and the crown of physical perfection is beautiful hair.
Venus would not charm us if she were bald, and neither poet, painter,
nor sculptor would dare to give us a "subject" which should lack this,
the charm of all other charms. Neither is it a modern fancy. Homer,
when he would praise Helen, calls her "the beautiful-haired Helen,"
and Petronius, in his famous picture of Circe, makes much of "trailing
locks."

The loveliness of long hair in woman seems never to have been
disputed, and it had also a very wide acceptance as a mark of
masculine strength and beauty. St. Paul, it is true, says that it is a
shame to a man to have long hair, but his opinion is not to be taken
without reservation, for both the traditions of poetry and painting
give to the Saviour, and also to the Beloved Disciple, long locks of
curling brown hair. The Greek warriors and most of the Asiatic nations
prided themselves on their long hair, and the Romans gave a great
significance to it by making it the badge of a freeman. Cæsar, too,
distinctly says that he always compelled the men of a province which
he had conquered to shave off their hair in token of submission.

The Saxon and Danish rulers of England were equally famous for their
long yellow locks, and the fashion continued with little or no
intermission until the dynasty of the Tudor kings. They affected, for
some reason or other, short hair; and "King Hal" is undoubtedly
indebted for his "bluff look" to the short, thick crop which he wore.
The fashion even extended to the women of that age, and their pictured
faces, with their hair all hidden away under a _coif_, have a most
hard, stiff, and unlovely appearance. Under the Stuarts, long, flowing
hair again became fashionable with the Royalist party, who made their
"love locks" the sign and emblem of their loyalty. On the contrary,
the Puritans made short hair almost a tenet of faith and a part of
their creed. Within the last ten years hair has been again the sign of
political feeling, for, during the Civil War, the Southern women in
favor of the Confederacy wore one long curl behind the left ear, while
those in favor of the Union wore one behind each ear.

During the last century men have gradually cut their hair shorter and
shorter. They pretend, of course, fashion dictates the order; but a
woman may be allowed to doubt whether necessity did not first dictate
to fashion. Certainly ladies prefer in men hair that is moderately
long, thick, and curling, to the penitentiary style of last year. And
suppose they could have long hair, but cut it for their own comfort,
the act says very little for their gallantry. I have no need to point
to the chignons, braids, and artifices which women use to lengthen
their hair in order to please men, who decline to return the
compliment, even to a degree that would be vastly becoming to them.

After the length of hair, color is the point of most interest. In
reality there are but two colors, black and red. Brown, golden,
yellow, etc., are intermediate, the difference in shade being
determined by the sulphur and oxygen or carbon which prevails. In
black hair, carbon exceeds; in golden hair, sulphur and oxygen. It has
been insisted that climate determines the color of hair; that
fair-haired people are found north of parallel 48°; brown hair between
48° and 45°; which would include Northern France, Switzerland,
Bohemia, Austria, and touch Georgia and Circassia, Canada, and the
northern part of Maine; and that below that line come the black-haired
races of Spain, Naples, Turkey, etc., etc. But this is easily
disproved. Take, for instance, the parallel 50° and follow it round
the world. Upon it may be found the curly, golden-haired European; the
black, straight hair of the Mongolian and American Indian, and again,
in Canada, it will give us the fair-haired Saxon girl. So, then, it is
race, and not climate, which determines the color. I am inclined to
think, too, that temperament has something to do with it, since we
find black-haired Celts, golden-haired Venetians, and fair and
black-haired Jews.

The ancient civilized nations passionately admired red hair. Greeks,
Romans, Chinese, Turks, and Spaniards have given it to their warriors
and beauties. Somehow among the Anglo-Saxon race it has a bad
reputation. Both in novels and plays it is common to give the rascal
of the plot "villanous red hair;" and in the English school of
painters, the traitor Judas is generally distinguished by it. In the
East, black is the favorite color, and the Persians abhor a red-haired
woman. Light brown or golden hair is the universal favorite. The
Greeks gave it to Apollo, Venus, and Minerva. The Romans had such a
passion for it that, in the days of the Empire, light hair brought
from Germany (to make wigs for Roman ladies) sold for its weight in
gold. The Germans themselves, not content with the beautiful hair
Nature had given them, made a soap of goat's tallow and beechwood
ashes to brighten the color. Homer loved "blondes," and Milton and
Shakespeare are full of golden-haired beauties, while the pages of
the novelist and the galleries of painters, ancient and modern, show
the same preference.

Lavater insists greatly on the color of hair as an index to the
disposition. "Chestnut hair," he says, "indicates love of change and
great vivacity; black hair, passion, strength, ambition, and energy;
fair hair, mildness, tenderness, and judgment."

Fashion has dressed the hair in many absurd and also in many beautiful
forms; but through all changes, curls, floating free and natural, have
had a majority of admirers. Some one says that "of all the revolvers
aimed at men's hearts, curls are the most deadly," and from the
persistent instinct of women in retaining them, I am inclined to
indorse this statement. The Armenians and some other Asiatics twist
the hair into the form of a mitre; the Parthians and Persians leave it
long and floating; the Scythians and Goths wear it short, thick, and
bristling; the Arabians and kindred people often cut it on the crown.
In the South of Europe, "to be in the hair" is a common expression for
unmarried girls, because they wear their hair long and flowing, while
matrons put it up in a coil at the back of the head.

Until the ninth century in England, Nature pretty much led the
fashions in hair-dressing; then plaits turned up on each side of the
cheek were introduced; and in the eleventh century the hair all
disappeared under the head-dress of that time. Early in the sixteenth
century ladies began to "turn up" the hair. Queen Margaret of Navarre
frizzed and turned back her abundant locks just as the women of our
own day do. The custom, too, that is now prevalent of braiding the
hair in two long locks and tying them at the ends with ribbons was a
favorite style in the early part of the seventeenth century. In the
eighteenth century women used powder to such an extent as almost to
destroy the color of the hair, and during the past hundred years every
possible arrangement and non-arrangement has had a temporary favor.

I have nothing to say about the customs of the present day. If there
is any property in which a woman has undisputed right, it is surely
in her own hair; and if she chooses to wear it in an unbecoming or
inartistic style, it is certainly no one's business that I can
perceive. Assuredly not the men's, since I have already shown that
they, either through inability or selfishness, decline to wear the
thick, flowing locks with which Nature crowns manly strength and
beauty, and which are all women's admiration.

The majority of women have a natural taste in this matter, and very
few are so silly as to sacrifice their beauty to fashion. Two or three
rules are fundamental in all arrangements of the hair: one is that a
superabundance at the back of the head always imparts an animal
expression; another, that it is peculiarly ugly to sweep the whole
forehead bare. The Greeks, supreme authorities on all subjects of
beauty and taste, were never guilty of such an atrocity. In all their
exquisite statues the hair is set low. A third is that "bands" are the
most trying of all _coiffures_, and never ought to be adopted except
by faces of classic beauty. To add them to a round, merry face with a
nose retroussé is as absurd as to put a Doric frieze on an irregular
building. A general and positive one is that all hair is spoiled, both
in quality and color, by oiling, for it takes from it that elasticity
and lightness which is its chief charm and characteristic; the last
(which I have no hope ladies will heed just at present) is, never to
hide the natural form of the head.



Waste of Vitality


If we come to reflect upon it, in middle age we find that the one
great cause of departure from the ideal in real life is our liability
to take cold. Almost all our pleasures are bound up with this
probability, for when we have taken cold we are far too stupid either
to give or enjoy pleasure. And there is no philosophy connected with
colds. Serious illnesses are full of instruction and resignation, but
who thinks of being resigned to a cold, or of making a profitable use
of it?

"Chilly" is a word that of late years has come to be a frequent and
pitiably significant one on the lips of the middle-aged. They have a
terror of the frost and snow which they once enjoyed so keenly, and
they really suffer much more than they will allow themselves to
confess.

The most invigorating and inspiriting of all climates is 64°, but if
the glass fall to 50°, chilly people are miserable; they feel
draughts everywhere, especially on the face, and very likely the first
symptoms of a neuralgic attack. At 40°--which must have been the
in-door winter temperature of our forefathers--they become irritable
and shivery, and lose all energy. If the temperature fall below 30°,
they "take cold," and exhibit all the mental inertia and many of the
physical symptoms of influenza, which nevertheless has not attacked
them.

Let us at once admit a truth: the young and robust despise the chilly
for their chilliness, for there is such a thing as physical pride, and
a very unpleasant thing it is in families. These physical Pharisees
are always recommending the "roughing" and "hardening" process, and
they would gladly revive for the poor invalid the cold-water torture
of the past.

Without being conscious of it, they are cruel. Chilly people are not
made better by the unsympathetic remarks of those of quicker blood.
There is no good in assuring them that the cold is healthy and
seasonable. They feel keenly the half-joking imputation of
"cosseting," though perhaps they are too inert and miserable to defend
themselves.

Strong walking exercise is the remedy always proposed. Many cannot
take it. Others make a laudable effort to follow the prescription, and
perhaps during it feel a glow of warmth to which in the house--though
the house is thoroughly warmed--they are strangers. But half an hour
after their return home the tide of life has receded again, and they
are as chilly and nervous as before.

Nevertheless, they have passed through an experience which, if they
would consider it, indicates their relief, if not their cure. While
out-of-doors they thought it necessary to cover their feet with warm
hosiery and thick boots, the head with a bonnet and veil, their hands
with gloves and a fur muff, their body with some fur or wadded garment
half an inch thick. In short, when they went out they imitated Nature,
and protected themselves as she does animals.

But just as soon as they return home they uncover their head and
hands, replace the warm, heavy clothing of the feet with some of a
more elegant but far colder quality, and take off altogether the thick
warm garments worn out-of-doors. A bear that should follow the same
course when it went home to its snug subterranean den would naturally
enough die of some pulmonary disease. Nations which are subjected to
long and severe winters have learned the more natural and excellent
way. The Laplander keeps on his fur, the Russian his wadded garment,
the Tartar his sheep-skin, the Shetlander goes about in his house in
his wadmal. It is only in our high state of civilization that men and
women divest themselves of half their clothing with the thermometer
below zero, and then run to the fire to warm their freezing hands and
feet.

If warm clothing protects us out of the house, it will do the same in
the house; and it is no more "coddling," and much more sensible and
satisfactory than cowering over a grate. Under the head-dress a silk
skullcap is a most effective protection against draughts, and would
prevent many an attack of neuralgia. A silk or wash-leather vest will
keep the body at a more equable temperature than the best fire. A
shawl to most middle-aged ladies is a graceful toilet adjunct even in
the house, and it is capable of retaining as well as of imparting much
warmth. When very chilly after removal of outside wraps, or from any
other cause, try a wadded dressing-gown over the usual clothing. In
five minutes the added comfort will be recognized.

The secret is, then, to keep the body at its proper temperature in the
house by the adoption of sufficient warm clothing, instead of trusting
to artificially heated atmosphere. No one will be more liable to take
cold out of the house because she has been warm in the house. There is
no more sense in shivering in-doors in order to prepare the body to
endure the out-door climate than there would be in sleeping with too
few blankets for fear of increasing the sense of cold when out of
bed.

A stuffy room, with air constantly heated to 75°, is the most
efficacious invention ever devised for ruining health. But it is
equally true that _habitual warmth_ is the very best preserver of
constitutional strength in middle and old age; and undoubtedly this is
best maintained by a temperature of 68° and plenty of clothing.

A very important aid to warmth is a proper diet. Many women who suffer
continually from a sense of chill, below the tide of healthy life,
have yet constantly at hand an abundance of nourishing food. But they
eat one day at one hour, the next at another; they don't care what
they eat, and take anything a flippant-minded cook chooses to send
them; they wait for some one when themselves hungry, out of mere
domestic courtesy; and when their husbands are from home they take tea
and biscuits because it is not worth while giving servants the trouble
of cooking for them alone. In all these and many similar ways vitality
is continually lost, and with every loss of vitality there is a
corresponding access of slow, chilly, shivering inertia.

It is a great mistake that women are taught from childhood that it is
meritorious in their sex to conceal their own wants, and to postpone
their own convenience to that of fathers, brothers, husbands, and even
servants. For in the end they break down, and are left in a state of
ill health in which all the wheels of life run slow. The trouble, in a
sentence, is that women _have no wives_--no one to remind them when
they are in a draught, or come in with wet feet, no one to get them a
warm drink when chilly, and ward off the little ills (which soon
become great ones) by loving, thoughtful, constant care and
attention.

All women know how hard it is to live the usual life of work and
amusement in a physical condition of far below the requisite strength.
Nothing induces this condition like chronic chill. In it no vitality
can be gained, and very much may be continually lost. Therefore every
plan should be tried which promises to raise the temperature to a
healthy standard. Try the effect of a room heated to 68°, and plenty
of warm, constantly warm clothing.



A Little Matter of Money


"It is unpleasant not to have money," says Mr. Hazlitt; indeed, it has
become a sort of social offence to be short of virtue in this respect;
for both nationally and personally, we are loath to confess so tragic
a calamity. We may assert that, having food and clothes, we are
therewith content, and that we would not encounter the perils and
snares of vast wealth; but are we quite sure that this humility and
contentment is not a fine name for being too lazy to earn money, or
too extravagant to keep it? Again, if all were content with the simple
satisfaction of their necessities--if nobody wanted to be rich--nobody
would be industrious or frugal, or strive to acquire knowledge. Who
then would build our churches, and endow our colleges? Who would send
out missionaries, and encourage science and inventions? The golden
grapes may be out of our reach, but they are a noble fruit when
pressed by kindly hands, and have given graciously unto the world
their wine of consolation.

The fact is that we have come to a time in which the want of money is
about as bad a moral distemper as the love of it. The latter position
is an admitted truth; the former is only beginning to put forth its
claims to the notice of professed moralists. Whatever special virtue
there was in poverty seems to be in direct antagonism to the spirit of
the present day; for there is no doubt that worldly prosperity has
come to be regarded as one of the legitimate fruits of the gospel. The
modern Church puts forth her hands and grasps the promise of the life
that now is, as well as that which is to come. Why not? Money gives a
power of doing good that nothing material can equal. Even "The Truth"
has now to depend on the currency, and the most evangelical societies
pay treasurers as well as missionaries.

The amount of money in a man's pocket is a great moral factor. He who
has plenty of ready cash and is not good-natured needs a thorough
change, and nothing but being born again will cure him. But the man
who is in a chronic state of poverty is a man placed in selfish
relations to every one around him. How hard it is for such a one to be
generous, just, and sympathetic! He is almost compelled to look on his
fellow-creatures with the eye of a slave-merchant, to consider: How
can they profit me? What can I gain by them? He must marry for money,
or not marry for the want of it. His friendship is a kind of traffic.
His religion is subject to considerations, for he will either go to
church for a certain connection, or he will not go at all because of
the collections.

Now, there is abundance of living strength in Christianity to meet
this and all other special wants of the age. There is no doubt that
money is the principle of our social gravitation, and we need
preachers who will not be afraid to tell us the truth, even though
nobody has ever told it just in that particular way before. We accept
without demur all that has been said about the evils of loving money;
will some of our spiritual teachers tell us how to avoid the evils and
cure the moral and physical distress caused by the want of money?
That this is a gigantic evil, we have constant proof in the daily
papers; in murder, theft, suicide, domestic misery and cruelty. These
criminals are far seldomer influenced by the love of money than by the
want of it. If instead of being without a dollar, they had had
sufficient for their necessities, would they have run such risks,
incurred such guilt, staked life on one desperate chance, flung it
away in despairing misery?

Of course the word "sufficient" is very elastic. It can be so moderate
and temperate; and again it can grasp at impossibilities. "My wants,"
said the Count Mirabel, "are few: a fine house, fine carriages, fine
horses, a complete wardrobe, the best opera box, the first cook, and
plenty of pocket-money--that is all I require." He thought his desires
very temperate; so also did the Scotchman, who, praying for a modest
competency, added, "and that there be no mistake, let it be seven
hundred pounds a year, paid quarterly in advance." There are indeed
all sorts of difficulties connected with this question, and anybody
can find their way into them. But there must also be a way out; and if
our guides would survey the ground a little, they would earn and have
our thanks. For undoubtedly this want of money is as great a
provocation to sin as the love of it. An empty purse is as full of
wicked thoughts as an evil heart; and the Father who allotted seven
guardian angels to man, and made five of them hover round his
pockets--empty or full--knew well his most vulnerable points.



Mission of Household Furniture


Have wood and paper and upholstery really any moral and emotional
agencies?

Certainly they have. Not very obvious ones perhaps, but all-pervading
and ever-persistent in their character; since there is no day--scarcely
an hour--of our lives in which we are not, either passively or
consciously, subject to their influences. Our cravings after elegance
of form, glimmer and shimmer of light and color, insensibly elevate and
civilize us; and the men and women condemned to the monotony of bare
walls and unpicturesque surroundings--whether they be devotees in
cells, or felons in dungeons--are the less human for the want of these
things. The want, then, is a direct moral evil, and a cause of
imperfection.

The desire for beautiful surroundings is a natural instinct in a pure
mind. How tenaciously people who live in dull streets, and who never
see a sunrise, nor a mountain peak, nor an unbroken horizon, cling to
it is proved on all sides of us by the picturesqueness which many a
mechanic's wife imparts to her little twelve-feet-square rooms. And it
is wonderful with what slender materials she will satisfy this hunger
of the eye for beauty and color. A few brightly polished tins, the
many-shaded patchwork coverlets and cushions, the gay stripes in the
rag carpet, the pot of trailing ivy or scarlet geranium, the shining
black stove, with its glimmer and glow of fire and heat, are made by
some subtle charm of arrangement both satisfactory and suggestive.

In spite of all arguments about the economy of "boarding," who does
not respect the men or women who, at all just sacrifices, eschew a
boarding-house and make themselves a home?

A man without a home has cast away an anchor; an atmosphere of
uncertainty clings about him; he advertises his tendency to break
loose from wholesome restraints. So strongly is the force of this home
influence now perceived that the wisest of our merchants refuse to
employ boys and women without homes, while the universal preference is
in favor of men who have assumed the head of the house, and thus given
hostage to society for their good behavior.

But a house is not a _home_ till it is swept and garnished, and
contains not only the wherewithal to refresh the body, but also
something for the comfort of the heart, the elevation of the mind, and
the delight of the eye.

If we would fairly estimate the moral power of furniture, let us
consider how attached it is possible for us to become to it. There are
chairs that are sacred objects to us: the large, easy one, in which
some saint sat patiently waiting for the angels; the little high chair
which was some darling baby's throne till he "went away one morning;"
the low rocker, in which mother nursed the whole family of stalwart
sons and lovely daughters.

Ask any practised student or writer how much he loves his old desk,
with its tidy pigeon-holes and familiar conveniences. Have they not
many a secret between them that they only understand? Are they not
familiar? Could they be parted without great sorrow and regrets?
Nothing is more certain than that we do stamp ourselves upon dead
matter, and impart to it a kind of life. Is there a more pathetic
picture than that of Dickens's study after his death? Yet no human
figure is present; there is nothing but furniture, the desk on which
he wrote those wonderful stories, and the empty chair before it.

Nothing but the empty chair and the confidential desk to speak for the
dead master; but how eloquently they do it!

Our furniture ought, therefore, to be easy and familiar. We cannot
give our hearts to what is uncomfortable, no matter how quaint or rich
it may be. And though it is always pleasant to have colors and forms
assorted with perfect taste, it is not desirable to have the effect so
perfect that we are afraid to make use of it, lest we destroy it. No
furniture ought to be so fine that we dare not light a fire for fear
of smoking it, or let the sunshine in for fear of fading it. In such
rooms we do not lounge and laugh and eat and rest and live,--we only
exist.

The proper character of drawing-rooms is that of gayety and
cheerfulness. This is attained by light tints, and brilliant colors
and gilding; but the brightest colors and the strongest contrasts must
be on the furniture, not on the walls and ceilings. These must be
subordinate in coloring, or the effect will be theatrical and vulgar.

The dining-room ought to be one of the pleasantest in the house; but
it is generally in the basement. It ought to be a room in which there
is nothing to remind us of labor or exertion, for we have gone there
to eat and to be refreshed. A few flowers, a dish of fruits, snowy
linen and china, glittering glass and silver, a pleasant blending of
warm and neutral tints are essentials. For ornaments, rare china,
Indian vases, Eastern jars suggestive of fine pickles or rare
sweetmeats, and a few pictures on the walls, representing only
pleasant subjects, and large enough to be examined without exertion,
are the best.

Advantages of locality, a refined diner will always perceive and
appropriate. Thus I used to dine frequently with a lady and gentleman
who in the spring always altered the position of the table, so that
while eating they could look through the large open windows, and see
the waving apple-blossoms and breathe the perfumed air, and listen to
the evening songs of the birds. Bedrooms should be light, cleanly, and
cheerful; greater contrasts are admissible between the room and the
furniture, as the bed and window-curtains form a sufficient mass to
balance a tint of equal intensity upon the walls. For the same reason
gay and bright carpets are often pleasant and ornamental.

Staircases, lobbies, and vestibules should be cool in tone, simple in
color, and free from contrasts. Here the effects are to be produced by
light and shadow, rather than by color. Every one must have noticed
that some houses as soon as the doors are opened look bright and
cheerful, while others are melancholy and dull. The difference is
caused by the good or bad taste with which they are papered. Yet who
shall say what events may arise from such a simple thing as the first
impressions of an important visitor? And these impressions may
involuntarily receive their primal tone from a light, cheerful, or
dull, dark hall paper.

All rooms open to the public must have a certain air of conventional
arrangement; but the parlor in every home ought to be a room of
character and individuality. Here is the very shrine and sanctuary of
the Lares and Penates. Here is the grandmamma's chair and knitting,
and mamma's work-basket, and the sofa on which papa lounges and reads
his evening paper. Here are Annie's flowers and Mary's easel and
Jack's much-abused class-books. Here the girls practise and the boys
rig their ship and mamma looks serious over the house books. In this
room the picture papers lie around, every one's favorite volume is on
the table, and the walls are sacred to the family portraits. In this
room the family councils are held and the dear invalids nursed back to
life. Here the boys come to say "good-bye" when they go away to school
or to business. Here the girls, in their gay party-dresses, come for
papa's final bantering kiss and mamma's last admiration and
admonition. Ah, this room!--this dear, untidy, unfashionable parlor!
It is the citadel of the household, the very _heart of the home_.

None can deny the influence which childhood's home has over them, even
unto their hoary-hairs; the memory of a happy, comfortable one is
better than an inheritance. The girls and boys who leave it have a
positive ideal to realize. There is no speculation in their efforts;
they _know_ that home is "Sweet Home." But in all their imaginings
chairs and tables and curtains and carpets have a conspicuous place.
This life is all we have to front eternity with, therefore nothing
that touches it is of small consequence. It is something to the body
to have comfortable and appropriate household surroundings, it is much
more to the mind. Is there any one whose feelings and energies are not
depressed by a cold, comfortless, untidy room? And who does not feel a
positive exaltation of spirit in the glow of a bright fire and the
cosey surroundings of a prettily furnished apartment?

God has not made us to differ in this respect. A pleasant home is the
dream and hope of every good man and woman. As Traddles and his dear
little wife used to please themselves by selecting in the shop windows
their contemplated service of silver, so also many honest, hopeful
toilers fix upon the chairs and curtains that are to adorn their homes
long before they possess them. The dream and the object is a great
gain morally to them. Perhaps they might have other ones, but it is
equally possible that the possession of this very furniture is the
very condition that makes higher ones possible.

Depend upon it "A Society for the Improved Furnishing of Poor Men's
Homes" would be a step taken in the seven-leagued boots for _the
elevation of poor men's and women's lives_.



People Who Have Good Impulses


There is a raw material in humanity--often very raw--called impulse,
or enthusiasm; and some people are very proud of possessing this
spasmodic excellence. They talk glibly of their "good impulses," their
"noble impulses," their "generous impulses," but the fact is that the
majority of impulses are neither good nor noble; while they are, of
all guides in human affairs, the most questionable. For impulses do
not come from settled principles, but rather from a loose habit of
mind--a mind just drifting along, and ready to accept any new
suggestion as an "impulse," an "inspiration," a "command." We believe
far too readily the cant about emotion, and erratic genius, and suffer
ourselves to be imposed upon by fussy, impulsive people; for if we
are at all allied with such, it is impossible to escape imposition;
since we have to be patient enough for two, and so bear an undue
burden of civility and good manners.

It may be said that such a discipline is not to be despised, and could
be made a lesson of spiritual grace. But if we are not sick, why
should we take medicine? Lessons God sets us, He helps us to learn,
but there are no promises for those who impose penance upon
themselves. And it is a penance to associate with impulsive, fussy
persons; for no matter how good their impulses are, they are simply
nowhere--as far as noble, enduring work is concerned--beside
well-considered plans, carried out by cool, consistent people, who
know what can be done and do it,--just as much next year as this year;
just as well in one place as in another.

Ministers of the gospel know this fact perhaps better than any other
mortals. They are constantly finding out how uncertain a quantity good
impulses are to depend upon. For they have not the habit of
materializing into good actions; they are evanescent pretenders to
righteousness; they tell more flattering tales than ever Hope told.
All too soon the practical, calm minister discovers that impulse and
enthusiasm are but rudimentary virtues, and seldom available for any
real, good work. The men of service, either in spiritual or temporal
work, are men whom nothing hurries or flurries; who are never in
haste, and never too late. They are not men of impulse, but of
consideration. Whether they are going to deliver a sermon or keep a
momentous appointment, to get a high office or a sum of money, or
merely to catch an express train, they are perfectly cool, and always
in time. Of course, impulsive people keep appointments and catch
trains, but oh, what a fuss they make about it!

Unfortunately, calm, grand natures are not of indigenous growth, and
we do not do all we might to cultivate them. If we took more time to
think, we should be less impulsive, more reasonable, less shallow. If
we made less haste, we should make more speed. "Slow and sure win the
race" is a proverb embodying a great truth. Fussy, impulsive people
never get at the bottom of things, never give an impartial judgment,
never are masters of any difficult situation; for the power of
deliberation, of staving off personal likes and dislikes, of waiting,
of knowing when to wait and when to move,--are powers invariably
linked with a cool head and a clear, calm will. But none of these
grand qualities come at the call of impulse. Even good impulses are of
no practical value until they crystallize into good deeds. Without
this result the impulse or the intention to do great things may be a
serious spiritual danger; the soul may satisfy itself with its
impulses and designs, and rest upon them; forgetting what place of
ineffectual regret is paved with good intentions.

In a certain sense it is true that the power of taking things in a
cool, practical way is often an affair of the pulse, and so many
beats, more or less, per minute, make a person fussy or serene. But it
is only true in measure. Forethought and preparation--realizing what
is likely to happen, and what is best to be done--are great helps to
keeping cool and calm. The will also can work miracles. I believe in
the will because I believe that the human will is God's grace. Those
who say, "I cannot" are those who think, "I will not." Besides which
there are heavenly powers that wait to help our infirmities. Paul did
not hesitate to pray for the removal of his physical infirmity, and
the "sufficient grace" that was promised him will be just as freely
given to us. Indeed, I may rest the question here, for this is our
great consolation: one cannot say too much of the Divine help. It will
keep all in perfect peace that trust in it.



Worried to Death


To say "we are worried to death" is a common expression; but do we
really comprehend the terrible truth of the remark? Do we realize that
the hounds of care and anxiety and fretful inability may actually tear
and torment us into paresis, or paralysis, or dementia, and as
virtually worry us to death, as a collie dog worries a sheep, or a cat
worries a mouse? And yet, if we are Christian men and women, worrying
is just the one thing not needful; for there are more than sixty
admonitions in the Bible against it; and the ground is so well covered
by them that between the first "Fear not" and the last, every
unnecessary anxiety is met, and there is not a legitimate subject for
worrying left.

Are we troubled about meat and money matters? We are told to "consider
the fowls of the air; they sow not, neither do they reap nor gather
into barns; yet your Heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much
better than they?"

Have we some malignant enemy to fight? Fear not! "If God be for us,
who can be against us?"

Are we in sorrow? "I, even I, am He that comforteth you."

Are we in doubt and perplexity? "I will bring the blind by a way that
they know not. I will lead them in paths they have not known. I will
make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight."

Do we fear that our work is beyond our strength? "He giveth power to
the faint; and to them that have no might, He increaseth strength."

Are we sick? He has promised to make all our bed in our sickness.

Do we fear death? He has assured us that in the valley and shadow of
death He will be with us.

Is the worry not for ourselves, but for wife and children that will be
left without support and protection? Even this last anxiety is
provided for. "Leave thy fatherless children to me, and let thy
widows trust in me, and I will preserve them alive."

Now, if we really believe that God made these promises, how shameful
is our distrust! Do we think that God will not keep His word? Do we
doubt His good-will toward us? When He says that He will make all
things work together for our good, is the Holy One lying to our
sorrowful hearts? Thirty years ago I was thrown helpless, penniless,
and friendless upon these assurances of God; and in thirty years He
has never broken a promise. He is a God that keepeth both mercy and
truth. I believe in His goodness. I trust in His care. I would not, by
worrying, tell Him to His face that He either has not the power or the
good-will to help and comfort me.

Worriers live under a very low sky. They allow nothing for probabilities
and "Godsends." They suffer nothing to go by faith. All times and all
places supply them with material. In summer, it is the heat and the
dogs and the hydrophobia. In winter, it is the cold, and the price of
coal. They take all the light and comfort out of home pleasures;
and abroad their complaints are endless. Yet to argue with worriers
is of little use; convince them at every point, and the next moment
they return to their old aggravating, vaporing _credo_.

What remains for them then? They must pray to God, and help
themselves. Egotism and selfishness are at the bottom of all worrying.
If they will just remember that there is no reason why they should be
exempted from the common trials of humanity, they may step at once on
to higher ground; for even worrying is humanized, when it is no longer
purely selfish and personal.

It is usually idle people who worry. Men and women whose every hour is
full of earnest business do not try to put two hours' care and thought
into one. Even a positive injury or injustice drops easily from an
honestly busy man. He has not time to keep a catalogue of his wrongs,
and worry about them. He simply casts his care upon Him who has
promised to care for him--for his health, and wealth, and happiness,
and good name; for all the events of his life, and for all the hopes
of his future.

Worriers would not like to see written down all the doubtful things
they have said of God, and all the ill-natured things they have said
of men; besides, they might consider that they are often righteously
worried, and only suffering the due reward of some folly of their own.
Would it not be better to ask God to put right what they have put
wrong; to lay hold of all that is good in the present; to refuse to
look forward to any possible change for the worse? I know a good man
who, when he feels inclined to worry over events, takes a piece of
paper and writes his fears down, and so faces "the squadron of his
doubts,"--finding generally that they vanish as they are mustered.

Come, let us take Cheerfulness as a companion. Let us say farewell to
Worrying. Cheerfulness will bid us ignore perplexities and annoyances;
and help us to rise above them. God loves a cheerful liver; and when
we consider the sin and sorrow, the poverty and ignorance, on every
side of us, we may well hold our peace from all words but those of
gratitude and thanksgiving. Worrying is self-torment. It is always
preparing "for the worst," and yet never fit to meet it. Cheerfulness
is a kind of magnanimity; it listens to no repinings; it outlooks
shadows; it turns necessity to glorious gain; and so breathing on
every gift of God, Hope's perpetual joy, it enables us, mid pleasant
yesterdays, and confident to-morrows,--

  To travel on life's common way,
  In cheerful godliness.



The Grapes We Can't Reach


The grapes we can't reach are not, as a general thing, sour grapes;
and it is a despicable kind of philosophy that asserts them to be so.
Why should we despise good things because we do not possess them?
Cicero, indeed, says that "if we do not have wealth, there is nothing
better and nobler than to despise it." But this assertion was
artificial in the case of Cicero, and it is no nearer the truth now
than it was two thousand years ago.

In fact, on the question of money this dictum appeals to us with great
force; for though it may be true that some of the best things of life
cannot be bought with money, it is equally true that there are other
good things that nothing but money can buy. Therefore, to follow
Cicero's advice and despise wealth if we have not got it, is to
despise a great many excellent things; and not only that, it is to
despise also the power of imparting these excellent things to other
people. The golden grapes may be out of our reach, but we need not say
the fruit is sour; rather let us give thanks that others have been
able to gather and press the rich vintage and to give graciously to
the world of its wine of consolation.

In the same way it has long been, fashionable to assert a contempt for
"the bubble reputation," whether sought on the battlefield or in the
senate, or forum, or study. But why despise one of the grandest moral
forces in the universe? For when a man can get out of self to follow
the fortunes of an idea, when he can fall in love with a cause, when
he can fight for some public good, when he can forfeit life, if need
be, for his conviction, the "reputation" that is sure to follow such
abnegation and courage is not a "bubble;" it is a glorious fact,--one
through which the general level of humanity is raised and the whole
world impelled forward.

I do not say that all persons who conscientiously use to their utmost
ability the one or two talents they possess are not as happy as
they can be. Thank God! life can be full in small measures. But if
any man or woman has been given five or ten talents, I do say they
have no right to keep them for their own delectation, falling back
upon such cheap sentiments as the hollowness of fame and the
"bubble reputation." Fame is not a bubble; it is a power whose
beneficent achievements have done a great deal toward making this
world a comfortable dwelling-place.

A great many high-sounding maxims in use at the present day have lost
their application. There was a time, centuries ago, when the
humiliations attending any upward climb were sufficient to deter a
sensitive, honorable soul. But such days are forever past. Any one now
bearing precious gifts for humanity finds the gates lifted up and a
wide entrance ready for him. Men and women can make what mark they are
able to make, and the world stands watching with sympathetic heart.
They will not find its "reputation" a "bubble."

Another fine, windy theme of warning from "sour-grape" philosophers is
the hollowness of friendship and the general insincerity of the world.
They have "seen through" the world, they know all its falseness and
worthlessness; and, as the world is far too busy to dispute their
assertions or to defend itself, the superior discernment of this class
of people is not brought to accurate accounting. As a matter of fact,
however, people generally get just as much consideration from the
world, and just as much fidelity from their friends, as they deserve.
A friend may ask us to dinner, but not therefore should we expect that
he share his purse with us. Community of taste and sentiment does not
imply community of goods. But, for all this, friendship is not hollow,
nor are the grapes of its hospitality sour.

I may notice here the prevalent opinion that there is no such
friendship now in the world as there used to be. "There are no Davids
and Jonathans now," say the unbelievers in humanity. Very true, for
David and Jonathan did not belong to the nineteenth century. To keep
up such a friendship, we require, not a spare hour now and then, but
an amount of certain and continuous leisure. There are still great
friendships among boys at school and young men in college, for they
have a large amount of steady leisure; and this is necessary to signal
friendship. When we have more time, we shall have more and stronger
friendships.

The vanity of life, the deceitfulness of women, the falseness of love,
the impossibility of happiness, the passing away of all that is lovely
and of good report, are old, old, old texts of complaint. Men and
women talk about them until they feel ever so much better than the
rest of the world; and such talk enables them to look down with proper
contempt upon the hypocrisies of society,--that is, of their next-door
neighbors and near acquaintances,--and fosters a comfortable, but
dangerous self-esteem. The world, upon the whole, is a good world to
those who try to be good and to do good, and every year it is growing
better. During the last fifty years how much it has grown! How
sympathetic, how charitable, how evangelizing it has become! Yes,
indeed, if we choose to do so, we shall meet with far more good hearts
than bad ones, and the topmost grapes are not sour.



Burdens


There are two kinds of burdens--those that God lays on us, and those
which we lay on ourselves. When God lays the burden on the back, he
gives us strength to carry it. There never was a Christian who, in
his weariest and dreariest hours, could not say, "His grace is
sufficient." If God smiles on him, he can smile under any burden that
he may have to carry. He can go up the "hill of difficulty"
singing, and walk confidently into the very land of the shadow of
death. For God's burdens are easy to bear; because he walks with us,
and when the journey is too great, and the burden too heavy, and
our hearts begin to fail and faint, he is sure to whisper, "Cast thy
burden upon me, and I will sustain thee."

The burdens that are hard to bear are those we lay upon ourselves.
What a burden to themselves, and to every one around them, are the
lazy and the unemployed! If it is a man, prayers should be offered up
for his family and his dependents,--for who is so morbid and
melancholy, so pettish and fretful, so devoured by spleen and ennui,
as the man with nothing to do? There is a lion in every way to him. He
is out of God's order of creation; the busy world has no sympathy with
him; society has no use for him; no one is the better for his life,
and no one is sorry for his death. He is simply the fungus of living,
active, breathing humanity. The lazy lay a burden on their backs which
would appall men who have fought winds and waves, and searched the
bowels of the earth, and bound to their will the subtle forces of
electricity and steam.

The burdens we bind for ourselves we shall have to bear alone. God is
not going to help us, and angels stand afar off; good men and women
are not here bound by the injunction, "Bear ye one another's burdens."
The envious, the proud, the drunkard, the seducer, the complainer, the
lazy, etc., must bear their self-inflicted burdens, till they perish
with them.

If the kingdom of heaven could be taken by some wonderful _coup
d'état_, many would be first that are now last. But of great deeds
little account is to be made. They are indigenous in every condition
of society. It is a great life that is never a failure. A great life
composed of a multitude of little burdens, cheerfully borne, and
little charges faithfully kept. And this is a kind of Christian
warfare, that is specially to be carried on in the sphere of the home.
Many a professor, faithful in all the weightier matters of the law and
the sanctuary, and blameless in the eyes of the world, is a rock of
offence in his own household. His wife doubts his religion, his
children fear him, and his servants call him a hard master. He pays
all his tithes of mint, anise, and cummin to the church and society,
but as regards the little burdens of his own household, he is worse
than a publican.

Small burdens make up the moral and religious probation of a majority
of women, for they have but rare occasion for the exercise of such
faith and fortitude as commands the eye of the world. But these
burdens, though apparently small and contracted in their sphere, are
not only very important in their results, but often singularly
irritating. Sickly, fretful children--impertinent, lazy servants--a
thoughtless, irregular husband--a hundred other burdens so small she
does not like to say how heavy she feels them to be and how sorely
they weary her,--these are "her warfare;" and because the Master has
laid them upon her, shall she not bear them? The world may call them
"little burdens," but there is nothing small in the eyes of Infinity.

In no way can a woman cultivate beauty and strength of character so
well as in the patient bearing and carrying of the small burdens that
every day await her--the headaches and toothaches--the weariness and
weakness incident to her position and condition. For it is the glory
of a woman that her weakness or weariness never shrouds a household in
gloom, or makes the atmosphere electrical with impatience and
irritability. To carry her burden, whatever it may be, cheerfully, is
not a little victory, and such daily victories make the last great one
easy to be won. It is hard to die before we have learned to live; but
death is easy to those who have conquered life. To such the grave is
but a laying down of all burdens, a rest from labor and obligation,
while yet their works of love and unselfishness do follow them with
fruit and blessing.

We must not forget that in our journey through life, there are burdens
which we may lawfully make our own. We may help the weak and the
struggling on to their feet, when they have fallen in the battle of
life. We may comfort those "touched by the finger of God." We may copy
the Good Samaritan, not forgetting the oil and two pence. We may wipe
the tears from the eyes of the widow and the fatherless. In bearing
such burdens as these, we shall find ourselves in good company; for in
the tabernacles of sanctified suffering we may come near to the Divine
Burden Bearer; and going on messages of mercy, we may meet angels
going the same way.

       *       *       *       *       *





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