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Title: The Chimney-Corner
Author: Stowe, Harriet Beecher
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Chimney-Corner" ***

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WRITINGS OF HARRIET BEECHER STOWE.


Mrs. Stowe's romances are among the most thoughtful, picturesque, and
popular works of modern fiction. Indeed, they should hardly be called
fictitious; for they treat inimitably, and with unfailing freshness,
some of the deepest themes that engage the attention of earnest minds.
They paint marvellously truthful pictures of the times, countries, and
people to which they relate, and are inspired by a nobility of purpose
that lifts them infinitely above the ordinary novel. Yet they are so
humorous, so exceedingly ingenious in depicting the ludicrous side of
things, that they rank with the most charming stories in English
Literature. Her essays, juvenile books, and poems are among the best of
their kind, and bear ample proofs of Mrs. Stowe's genius.


_AGNES OF SORRENTO. A Romance of Italy._ 12mo                  $2.00

_THE PEARL OF ORR'S ISLAND. A Story of Maine._ 12mo             2.00

_UNCLE TOM'S CABIN._ 12mo                                       2.00

_THE MINISTER'S WOOING. 12mo_                                   2.00

_THE MAY-FLOWER, and other Sketches._ 12mo                      2.00

_NINA GORDON_ (formerly called "Dred"). 12mo                    2.00

_OLDTOWN FOLKS._ 12mo                                           2.00

_SAM LAWSON'S FIRESIDE STORIES._ Illustrated. 12mo. Paper        .75
      _The same._ Boards                                        1.00

_HOUSE AND HOME PAPERS._ 16mo                                   1.75

_LITTLE FOXES._ 16mo                                            1.75

_THE CHIMNEY-CORNER._ 16mo                                      1.75

_RELIGIOUS POEMS._ Illustrated. Gilt edges. 16mo                2.00

_PALMETTO LEAVES._ A Volume of Sketches. Illustrated. 16mo      2.00

_LADY BYRON VINDICATED._ 16mo                                   1.50

_QUEER LITTLE PEOPLE._ Illustrated. Small 4to                   1.50

_LITTLE PUSSY WILLOW._ Illustrated. Small 4to                   1.50


For sale by all Booksellers. Sent, post-paid, on receipt of price by

JAMES R. OSGOOD & CO., Publishers,

CATHEDRAL BUILDING, WINTHROP SQUARE, BOSTON.



THE CHIMNEY-CORNER.

BY

CHRISTOPHER CROWFIELD,

AUTHOR OF "HOUSE AND HOME PAPERS" AND "LITTLE FOXES."

[Illustration: Logo]

BOSTON:

JAMES R. OSGOOD AND COMPANY,

LATE TICKNOR & FIELDS, AND FIELDS, OSGOOD, & CO.

1877.


Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1868, by

TICKNOR AND FIELDS,

in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the
District of Massachusetts.


UNIVERSITY PRESS: WELCH, BIGELOW, & CO.,
CAMBRIDGE.



CONTENTS.

                                                        PAGE
   I. WHAT WILL YOU DO WITH HER? OR, THE WOMAN QUESTION    1

  II. WOMAN'S SPHERE                                      27

 III. A FAMILY-TALK ON RECONSTRUCTION                     63

  IV. IS WOMAN A WORKER?                                 100

   V. THE TRANSITION                                     123

  VI. BODILY RELIGION: A SERMON ON GOOD HEALTH           142

 VII. HOW SHALL WE ENTERTAIN OUR COMPANY?                166

VIII. HOW SHALL WE BE AMUSED?                            187

  IX. DRESS, OR WHO MAKES THE FASHIONS                   205

   X. WHAT ARE THE SOURCES OF BEAUTY IN DRESS            235

  XI. THE CATHEDRAL                                      259

XII. THE NEW YEAR                                        278

XIII. THE NOBLE ARMY OF MARTYRS                          297



THE CHIMNEY-CORNER.



I.

WHAT WILL YOU DO WITH HER? OR, THE WOMAN QUESTION.


"Well, what will you do with her?" said I to my wife.

My wife had just come down from an interview with a pale, faded-looking
young woman in rusty black attire, who had called upon me on the very
common supposition that I was an editor of the "Atlantic Monthly."

By the by, this is a mistake that brings me, Christopher Crowfield, many
letters that do not belong to me, and which might with equal pertinency
be addressed, "To the Man in the Moon." Yet these letters often make my
heart ache,--they speak so of people who strive and sorrow and want
help; and it is hard to be called on in plaintive tones for help which
you know it is perfectly impossible for you to give.

For instance, you get a letter in a delicate hand, setting forth the
old distress,--she is poor, and she has looking to her for support those
that are poorer and more helpless than herself: she has tried sewing,
but can make little at it; tried teaching, but cannot now get a
school,--all places being filled, and more than filled; at last has
tried literature, and written some little things, of which she sends you
a modest specimen, and wants your opinion whether she can gain her
living by writing. You run over the articles, and perceive at a glance
that there is no kind of hope or use in her trying to do anything at
literature; and then you ask yourself, mentally, "What is to be done
with her? What can she do?"

Such was the application that had come to me this morning,--only,
instead of by note, it came, as I have said, in the person of the
applicant, a thin, delicate, consumptive-looking being, wearing that
rusty mourning which speaks sadly at once of heart-bereavement and
material poverty.

My usual course is to turn such cases over to Mrs. Crowfield; and it is
to be confessed that this worthy woman spends a large portion of her
time, and wears out an extraordinary amount of shoe-leather, in
performing the duties of a self-constituted intelligence-office.

Talk of giving money to the poor! what is that, compared to giving
sympathy, thought, time, taking their burdens upon you, sharing their
perplexities? They who are able to buy off every application at the door
of their heart with a five or ten dollar bill are those who free
themselves at least expense.

My wife had communicated to our friend, in the gentlest tones and in the
blandest manner, that her poor little pieces, however interesting to her
own household circle, had nothing in them wherewith to enable her to
make her way in the thronged and crowded thoroughfare of letters,--that
they had no more strength or adaptation to win bread for her than a
broken-winged butterfly to draw a plough; and it took some resolution in
the background of her tenderness to make the poor applicant entirely
certain of this. In cases like this, absolute certainty is the very
greatest, the only true kindness.

It was grievous, my wife said, to see the discouraged shade which passed
over her thin, tremulous features, when this certainty forced itself
upon her. It is hard, when sinking in the waves, to see the frail bush
at which the hand clutches uprooted; hard, when alone in the crowded
thoroughfare of travel, to have one's last bank-note declared a
counterfeit. I knew I should not be able to see her face, under the
shade of this disappointment; and so, coward that I was, I turned this
trouble, where I have turned so many others, upon my wife.

"Well, what shall we do with her?" said I.

"I really don't know," said my wife, musingly.

"Do you think we could get that school in Taunton for her?"

"Impossible; Mr. Herbert told me he had already twelve applicants for
it."

"Couldn't you get her plain sewing? Is she handy with her needle?"

"She has tried that, but it brings on a pain in her side, and cough; and
the doctor has told her it will not do for her to confine herself."

"How is her handwriting? Does she write a good hand?"

"Only passable."

"Because," said I, "I was thinking if I could get Steele and Simpson to
give her law-papers to copy."

"They have more copyists than they need now; and, in fact, this woman
does not write the sort of hand at all that would enable her to get on
as a copyist."

"Well," said I, turning uneasily in my chair, and at last hitting on a
bright masculine expedient, "I'll tell you what must be done. She must
get married."

"My dear," said my wife, "marrying for a living is the very hardest way
a woman can take to get it. Even marrying for love often turns out badly
enough. Witness poor Jane."

Jane was one of the large number of people whom it seemed my wife's
fortune to carry through life on her back. She was a pretty, smiling,
pleasing daughter of Erin, who had been in our family originally as
nursery-maid. I had been greatly pleased in watching a little idyllic
affair growing up between her and a joyous, good-natured young Irishman,
to whom at last we married her. Mike soon after, however, took to
drinking and unsteady courses; and the result has been to Jane only a
yearly baby, with poor health, and no money.

"In fact," said my wife, "if Jane had only kept single, she could have
made her own way well enough, and might have now been in good health and
had a pretty sum in the savings bank. As it is, I must carry not only
her, but her three children, on my back."

"You ought to drop her, my dear. You really ought not to burden yourself
with other people's affairs as you do," said I, inconsistently.

"How _can_ I drop her? Can I help knowing that she is poor and
suffering? And if I drop her, who will take her up?"

Now there is a way of getting rid of cases of this kind, spoken of in a
quaint old book, which occurred strongly to me at this moment:--

"If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one
of you say unto them, 'Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled,'
notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the
body, what doth it profit?"

I must confess, notwithstanding the strong point of the closing
question, I looked with an evil eye of longing on this very easy way of
disposing of such cases. A few sympathizing words, a few expressions of
hope that I did not feel, a line written to turn the case into somebody
else's hands,--any expedient, in fact, to hide the longing eyes and
imploring hands from my sight, was what my carnal nature at this moment
greatly craved.

"Besides," said my wife, resuming the thread of her thoughts in regard
to the subject just now before us, "as to marriage, it's out of the
question at present for this poor child; for the man she loved and would
have married lies low in one of the graves before Richmond. It's a sad
story,--one of a thousand like it. She brightened for a few moments, and
looked almost handsome, when she spoke of his bravery and goodness. Her
father and lover have both died in this war. Her only brother has
returned from it a broken-down cripple, and she has him and her poor old
mother to care for, and so she seeks work. I told her to come again
to-morrow, and I would look about for her a little to-day."

"Let me see, how many are now down on your list to be looked about for,
Mrs. Crowfield?--some twelve or thirteen, are there not? You've got
Tom's sister disposed of finally, I hope,--that's a comfort!"

"Well, I'm sorry to say she came back on my hands yesterday," said my
wife, patiently. "She is a foolish young thing, and said she didn't like
living out in the country. I'm sorry, because the Morrises are an
excellent family, and she might have had a life-home there, if she had
only been steady, and chosen to behave herself properly. But yesterday I
found her back on her mother's hands again; and the poor woman told me
that the dear child never could bear to be separated from her, and that
she hadn't the heart to send her back."

"And in short," said I, "she gave you notice that you must provide for
Miss O'Connor in some more agreeable way. Cross that name off your list,
at any rate. That woman and girl need a few hard raps in the school of
experience before you can do anything for them."

"I think I shall," said my long-suffering wife; "but it 's a pity to see
a young thing put in the direct road to ruin."

"It is one of the inevitables," said I, "and we must save our strength
for those that are willing to help themselves."

"What's all this talk about?" said Bob, coming in upon us rather
brusquely.

"O, as usual, the old question," said I,--"'What's to be done with
her?'"

"Well," said Bob, "it's exactly what I've come to talk with mother
about. Since she keeps a distressed-women's agency-office, I've come to
consult her about Marianne. That woman will die before six months are
out, a victim to high civilization and the Paddies. There we are, twelve
miles out from Boston, in a country villa so convenient that every part
of it might almost do its own work,--everything arranged in the most
convenient, contiguous, self-adjusting, self-acting, patent-right,
perfective manner,--and yet, I tell you, Marianne will die of that
house. It will yet be recorded on her tombstone, 'Died of conveniences.'
For myself, what I languish for is a log cabin, with a bed in one
corner, a trundle-bed underneath for the children, a fireplace only six
feet off, a table, four chairs, one kettle, a coffee-pot, and a tin
baker,--that's all. I lived deliciously in an establishment of this kind
last summer, when I was up at Lake Superior; and I am convinced, if I
could move Marianne into it at once, that she would become a healthy and
a happy woman. Her life is smothered out of her with comforts; we have
too many rooms, too many carpets, too many vases and knick-knacks, too
much china and silver; she has too many laces and dresses and bonnets;
the children all have too many clothes;--in fact, to put it
scripturally, our riches are corrupted, our garments are moth-eaten, our
gold and our silver is cankered,--and, in short, Marianne is sick in
bed, and I have come to the agency-office-for-distressed-women to take
you out to attend to her.

"The fact is," continued Bob, "that since our cook married, and Alice
went to California, there seems to be no possibility of putting our
domestic cabinet upon any permanent basis. The number of female persons
that have been through our house, and the ravages they have wrought on
it for the last six months, pass belief. I had yesterday a bill of sixty
dollars' plumbing to pay for damages of various kinds which had had to
be repaired in our very convenient water-works; and the blame of each
particular one had been bandied like a shuttlecock among our three
household divinities. Biddy privately assured my wife that Kate was in
the habit of emptying dust-pans of rubbish into the main drain from the
chambers, and washing any little extra bits down through the bowls; and,
in fact, when one of the bathing-room bowls had overflowed so as to
damage the frescoes below, my wife, with great delicacy and precaution,
interrogated Kate as to whether she had followed her instructions in the
care of the water-pipes. Of course she protested the most immaculate
care and circumspection. 'Sure, and she knew how careful one ought to
be, and wasn't of the likes of thim as wouldn't mind what throuble they
made,--like Biddy, who would throw trash and hair in the pipes, and
niver listen to her tellin'; sure, and hadn't she broken the pipes in
the kitchen, and lost the stoppers, as it was a shame to see in a
Christian house?' Ann, the third girl, being privately questioned,
blamed Biddy on Monday, and Kate on Tuesday; on Wednesday, however, she
exonerated both; but on Thursday, being in a high quarrel with both, she
departed, accusing them severally, not only of all the evil practices
afore-said, but of lying, and stealing, and all other miscellaneous
wickednesses that came to hand. Whereat the two thus accused rushed in,
bewailing themselves and cursing Ann in alternate strophes, averring
that she had given the baby laudanum, and, taking it out riding, had
stopped for hours with it in a filthy lane, where the scarlet fever was
said to be rife,--in short, made so fearful a picture, that Marianne
gave up the child's life at once, and has taken to her bed. I have
endeavored all I could to quiet her, by telling her that the
scarlet-fever story was probably an extemporaneous work of fiction, got
up to gratify the Hibernian anger at Ann; and that it wasn't in the
least worth while to believe one thing more than another from the fact
that any of the tribe said it. But she refuses to be comforted, and is
so Utopian as to lie there, crying, 'O, if I only could get one that I
could trust,--one that really would speak the truth to me,--one that I
might know really went where she said she went, and really did as she
said she did!' To have to live so, she says, and bring up little
children with those she can't trust out of her sight, whose word is good
for nothing,--to feel that her beautiful house and her lovely things are
all going to rack and ruin, and she can't take care of them, and can't
see where or when or how the mischief is done,--in short, the poor child
talks as women do who are violently attacked with housekeeping fever
tending to congestion of the brain. She actually yesterday told me that
she wished, on the whole, she never had got married, which I take to be
the most positive indication of mental alienation."

"Here," said I, "we behold at this moment two women dying for the want
of what they can mutually give one another,--each having a supply of
what the other needs, but held back by certain invisible cobwebs, slight
but strong, from coming to each other's assistance. Marianne has money
enough, but she wants a helper in her family, such as all her money has
been hitherto unable to buy; and here, close at hand, is a woman who
wants home-shelter, healthy, varied, active, cheerful labor, with
nourishing food, kind care, and good wages. What hinders these women
from rushing to the help of one another, just as two drops of water on a
leaf rush together and make one? Nothing but a miserable prejudice,--but
a prejudice so strong that women will starve in any other mode of life,
rather than accept competency and comfort in this."

"You don't mean," said my wife, "to propose that our _protégée_ should
go to Marianne as a servant?"

"I do say it would be the best thing for her to do,--the only opening
that I see, and a very good one, too, it is. Just look at it. Her bare
living at this moment cannot cost her less than five or six dollars a
week,--everything at the present time is so very dear in the city. Now
by what possible calling open to her capacity can she pay her board and
washing, fuel and lights, and clear a hundred and some odd dollars a
year? She could not do it as a district school-teacher; she certainly
cannot, with her feeble health, do it by plain sewing; she could not do
it as a copyist. A robust woman might go into a factory, and earn more;
but factory work is unintermitted, twelve hours daily, week in and out,
in the same movement, in close air, amid the clatter of machinery; and a
person delicately organized soon sinks under it. It takes a stolid,
enduring temperament to bear factory labor. Now look at Marianne's house
and family, and see what is insured to your _protégée_ there.

"In the first place, a home,--a neat, quiet chamber, quite as good as
she has probably been accustomed to,--the very best of food, served in a
pleasant, light, airy kitchen, which is one of the most agreeable rooms
in the house, and the table and table-service quite equal to those of
most farmers and mechanics. Then her daily tasks would be light and
varied,--some sweeping, some dusting, the washing and dressing of
children, the care of their rooms and the nursery,--all of it the most
healthful, the most natural work of a woman,--work alternating with
rest, and diverting thought from painful subjects by its variety,--and
what is more, a kind of work in which a good Christian woman might have
satisfaction, as feeling herself useful in the highest and best way; for
the child's nurse, if she be a pious, well-educated woman, may make the
whole course of nursery-life an education in goodness. Then, what is far
different from many other modes of gaining a livelihood, a woman in this
capacity can make and feel herself really and truly beloved. The hearts
of little children are easily gained, and their love is real and warm,
and no true woman can become the object of it without feeling her own
life made brighter. Again, she would have in Marianne a sincere,
warm-hearted friend, who would care for her tenderly, respect her
sorrows, shelter her feelings, be considerate of her wants, and in
every way aid her in the cause she has most at heart,--the succor of her
family. There are many ways besides her wages in which she would
infallibly be assisted by Marianne, so that the probability would be
that she could send her little salary almost untouched to those for
whose support she was toiling,--all this on her part."

"But," added my wife, "on the other hand, she would be obliged to
associate and be ranked with common Irish servants."

"Well," I answered, "is there any occupation, by which any of us gain
our living, which has not its disagreeable side? Does not the lawyer
spend all his days either in a dusty office or in the foul air of a
court-room? Is he not brought into much disagreeable contact with the
lowest class of society? Are not his labors dry and hard and exhausting?
Does not the blacksmith spend half his life in soot and grime, that he
may gain a competence for the other half? If this woman were to work in
a factory, would she not often be brought into associations distasteful
to her? Might it not be the same in any of the arts and trades in which
a living is to be got? There must be unpleasant circumstances about
earning a living in any way; only I maintain that those which a woman
would be likely to meet with as a servant in a refined, well-bred,
Christian family would be less than in almost any other calling. Are
there no trials to a woman, I beg to know, in teaching a district
school, where all the boys, big and little, of a neighborhood
congregate? For my part, were it my daughter or sister who was in
necessitous circumstances, I would choose for her a position such as I
name, in a kind, intelligent, Christian family, before many of those to
which women do devote themselves."

"Well," said Bob, "all this has a good sound enough, but it's quite
impossible. It's true, I verily believe, that such a kind of servant in
our family would really prolong Marianne's life years,--that it would
improve her health, and be an unspeakable blessing to her, to me, and
the children,--and I would almost go down on my knees to a really
well-educated, good, American woman who would come into our family, and
take that place; but I know it's perfectly vain and useless to expect
it. You know we have tried the experiment two or three times of having a
person in our family who should be on the footing of a friend, yet do
the duties of a servant, and that we _never_ could make it work well.
These half-and-half people are so sensitive, so exacting in their
demands, so hard to please, that we have come to the firm determination
that we will have no sliding-scale in our family, and that whoever we
are to depend on must come with _bona-fide_ willingness to take the
position of a servant, such as that position is in our house; and
_that_, I suppose, your _protégée_ would never do, even if she could
thereby live easier, have less hard work, better health, and quite as
much money as she could earn in any other way."

"She would consider it a personal degradation, I suppose," said my wife.

"And yet, if she only knew it," said Bob, "I should respect her far more
profoundly for her willingness to take that position, when adverse
fortune has shut other doors."

"Well, now," said I, "this woman is, as I understand, the daughter of a
respectable stone-mason; and the domestic habits of her early life have
probably been economical and simple. Like most of our mechanics'
daughters, she has received in one of our high schools an education
which has cultivated and developed her mind far beyond those of her
parents and the associates of her childhood. This is a common fact in
our American life. By our high schools the daughters of plain workingmen
are raised to a state of intellectual culture which seems to make the
disposition of them in any kind of industrial calling a difficult one.
They all want to teach school,--and school-teaching, consequently, is an
overcrowded profession,--and, failing that, there is only millinery and
dressmaking. Of late, it is true, efforts have been made in various
directions to widen their sphere. Type-setting and book-keeping are in
some instances beginning to be open to them.

"All this time there is lying, neglected and despised, a calling to
which womanly talents and instincts are peculiarly fitted,--a calling
full of opportunities of the most lasting usefulness,--a calling which
insures a settled home, respectable protection, healthful exercise, good
air, good food, and good wages,--a calling in which a woman may make
real friends, and secure to herself warm affection; and yet this calling
is the one always refused, shunned, contemned, left to the alien and the
stranger, and that simply and solely because it bears the name of
_servant_. A Christian woman, who holds the name of Christ in her heart
in true devotion, would think it the greatest possible misfortune and
degradation to become like him in taking upon her 'the form of a
servant.' The founder of Christianity says, 'Whether is greater, he that
sitteth at meat or he that serveth? But _I_ am among you as he that
serveth.' But notwithstanding these so plain declarations of Jesus, we
find that scarce any one in a Christian land will accept real advantages
of position and employment that come with that name and condition."

"I suppose," said my wife, "I could prevail upon this woman to do all
the duties of the situation, if she could be, as they phrase it,
'treated as one of the family.'"

"That is to say," said Bob, "if she could sit with us at the same table,
be introduced to our friends, and be in all respects as one of us. Now
as to this, I am free to say that I have no false aristocratic scruples.
I consider every well-educated woman as fully my equal, not to say my
superior; but it does not follow from this that she would be one whom I
should wish to make a third party with me and my wife at mealtimes. Our
meals are often our seasons of privacy,--the times when we wish in
perfect unreserve to speak of matters that concern ourselves and our
family alone. Even invited guests and family friends would not be always
welcome, however agreeable at times. Now a woman may be perfectly worthy
of respect, and we may be perfectly respectful to her, whom nevertheless
we do not wish to take into the circle of intimate friendship. I regard
the position of a woman who comes to perform domestic service as I do
any other business relation. We have a very respectable young lady in
our employ, who does legal copying for us, and all is perfectly pleasant
and agreeable in our mutual relations; but the case would be far
otherwise, were she to take it into her head that we treated her with
contempt, because my wife did not call on her, and because she was not
occasionally invited to tea. Besides, I apprehend that a woman of quick
sensibilities, employed in domestic service, and who was so far treated
as a member of the family as to share our table, would find her position
even more painful and embarrassing than if she took once for all the
position of a servant. We could not control the feelings of our friends;
we could not always insure that they would be free from aristocratic
prejudice, even were we so ourselves. We could not force her upon their
acquaintance, and she might feel far more slighted than she would in a
position where no attentions of any kind were to be expected. Besides
which, I have always noticed that persons standing in this uncertain
position are objects of peculiar antipathy to the servants in full; that
they are the cause of constant and secret cabals and discontents; and
that a family where the two orders exist has always raked up in it the
smouldering embers of a quarrel ready at any time to burst out into open
feud."

"Well," said I, "here lies the problem of American life. Half our women,
like Marianne, are being faded and made old before their time by
exhausting endeavors to lead a life of high civilization and refinement
with only such untrained help as is washed up on our shores by the tide
of emigration. Our houses are built upon a plan that precludes the
necessity of much hard labor, but requires rather careful and nice
handling. A well-trained, intelligent woman, who had vitalized her
finger-ends by means of a well-developed brain, could do all the work of
such a house with comparatively little physical fatigue. So stands the
case as regards our houses. Now over against the women that are
perishing in them from too much care, there is another class of American
women that are wandering up and down, perishing for lack of some
remunerating employment. That class of women, whose developed brains and
less developed muscles mark them as peculiarly fitted for the
performance of the labors of a high civilization, stand utterly aloof
from paid domestic service. Sooner beg, sooner starve, sooner marry for
money, sooner hang on as dependants in families where they know they are
not wanted, than accept of a quiet home, easy, healthful work, and
certain wages, in these refined and pleasant modern dwellings of ours."

"What is the reason of this?" said Bob.

"The reason is, that we have not yet come to the full development of
Christian democracy. The taint of old aristocracies is yet pervading all
parts of our society. We have not yet realized fully the true dignity of
labor, and the surpassing dignity of domestic labor. And I must say that
the valuable and courageous women who have agitated the doctrines of
Woman's Rights among us have not in all things seen their way clear in
this matter."

"Don't talk to me of those creatures," said Bob, "those men-women,
those anomalies, neither flesh nor fish, with their conventions, and
their cracked woman-voices strained in what they call public speaking,
but which I call public squeaking! No man reverences true women more
than I do. I hold a real, true, thoroughly good _woman_, whether in my
parlor or my kitchen, as my superior. She can always teach me something
that I need to know. She has always in her somewhat of the divine gift
of prophecy; but in order to keep it, she must remain a woman. When she
crops her hair, puts on pantaloons, and strides about in conventions,
she is an abortion, and not a woman."

"Come! come!" said I, "after all, speak with deference. We that choose
to wear soft clothing and dwell in kings' houses must respect the
Baptists, who wear leathern girdles, and eat locusts and wild honey.
They are the voices crying in the wilderness, preparing the way for a
coming good. They go down on their knees in the mire of life to lift up
and brighten and restore a neglected truth; and we that have not the
energy to share their struggle should at least refrain from criticising
their soiled garments and ungraceful action. There have been
excrescences, eccentricities, peculiarities, about the camp of these
reformers; but the body of them have been true and noble women, and
worthy of all the reverence due to such. They have already in many of
our States reformed the laws relating to woman's position, and placed
her on a more just and Christian basis. It is through their movements
that in many of our States a woman can hold the fruits of her own
earnings, if it be her ill luck to have a worthless, drunken spendthrift
for a husband. It is owing to their exertions that new trades and
professions are opening to woman; and all that I have to say of them is,
that in the suddenness of their zeal for opening new paths for her feet,
they have not sufficiently considered the propriety of straightening,
widening, and mending the one broad, good old path of domestic labor,
established by God himself. It does appear to me, that, if at least a
portion of their zeal could be spent in removing the stones out of this
highway of domestic life, and making it pleasant and honorable, they
would effect even more. I would not have them leave undone what they are
doing; but I would, were I worthy to be considered, humbly suggest to
their prophetic wisdom and enthusiasm, whether, in this new future of
women which they wish to introduce, women's natural, God-given
employment of _domestic service_ is not to receive a new character, and
rise in a new form.

"'To love and serve' is a motto worn with pride on some aristocratic
family shields in England. It ought to be graven on the Christian
shield. _Servant_ is the name which Christ gives to the _Christian_; and
in speaking of his kingdom as distinguished from earthly kingdoms, he
distinctly said, that rank there should be conditioned, not upon desire
to command, but on willingness to serve.

"'Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them,
and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not
be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your
minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your
_servant_.'

"Why is it, that this name of servant, which Christ says is the highest
in the kingdom of heaven, is so dishonored among us professing
Christians, that good women will beg or starve, will suffer almost any
extreme of poverty and privation, rather than accept home, competence,
security, with this honored name?"

"The fault with many of our friends of the Woman's Rights order," said
my wife, "is the depreciatory tone in which they have spoken of the
domestic labors of a family as being altogether below the scope of the
faculties of woman. '_Domestic drudgery_' they call it,--an expression
that has done more harm than any two words that ever were put together.

"Think of a woman's calling clear-starching and ironing domestic
drudgery, and to better the matter turning to type-setting in a grimy
printing-office! Call the care of china and silver, the sweeping of
carpets, the arrangement of parlors and sitting-rooms, drudgery; and go
into a factory and spend the day amid the whir and clatter and thunder
of machinery, inhaling an atmosphere loaded with wool and
machine-grease, and keeping on the feet for twelve hours, nearly
continuously! Think of its being called drudgery to take care of a
clean, light, airy nursery, to wash and dress and care for two or three
children, to mend their clothes, tell them stories, make them
playthings, take them out walking or driving; and rather than this, to
wear out the whole livelong day, extending often deep into the night, in
endless sewing, in a close room of a dressmaking establishment! Is it
any less drudgery to stand all day behind a counter, serving customers,
than to tend a door-bell and wait on a table? For my part," said my
wife, "I have often thought the matter over, and concluded, that, if I
were left in straitened circumstances, as many are in a great city, I
would seek a position as a servant in one of our good families."

"I envy the family that you even think of in that connection," said I.
"I fancy the amazement which would take possession of them as you began
to develop among them."

"I have always held," said my wife, "that family work, in many of its
branches, can be better performed by an educated woman than an
uneducated one. Just as an army where even the bayonets think is
superior to one of mere brute force and mechanical training, so, I have
heard it said, some of our distinguished modern female reformers show an
equal superiority in the domestic sphere,--and I do not doubt it. Family
work was never meant to be the special province of untaught brains. I
have sometimes thought I should like to show what I could do as a
servant."

"Well," said Bob, "to return from all this to the question, What's to be
done with her? Are you going to _my_ distressed woman? If you are,
suppose you take _your_ distressed woman along, and ask her to try it. I
can promise her a pleasant house, a quiet room by herself, healthful and
not too hard work, a kind friend, and some leisure for reading, writing,
or whatever other pursuit of her own she may choose for her recreation.
We are always quite willing to lend books to any who appreciate them.
Our house is surrounded by pleasant grounds, which are open to our
servants as to ourselves. So let her come and try us. I am quite sure
that country air, quiet security, and moderate exercise in a good home,
will bring up her health; and if she is willing to take the one or two
disagreeables which may come with all this, let her try us."

"Well," said I, "so be it; and would that all the women seeking homes
and employment could thus fall in with women who have homes and are
perishing in them for want of educated helpers!"

On this question of woman's work I have yet more to say, but must defer
it till another time.



II.

WOMAN'S SPHERE.


"What do you think of this Woman's Rights question?" said Bob Stephens.
"From some of your remarks, I apprehend that you think there is
something in it. I may be wrong, but I must confess that I have looked
with disgust on the whole movement. No man reverences women as I do; but
I reverence them _as_ women. I reverence them for those very things in
which their sex differs from ours; but when they come upon our ground,
and begin to work and fight after our manner and with our weapons, I
regard them as fearful anomalies, neither men nor women. These Woman's
Rights Conventions appear to me to have ventilated crudities,
absurdities, and blasphemies. To hear them talk about men, one would
suppose that the two sexes were natural-born enemies, and wonders
whether they ever had fathers and brothers. One would think, upon their
showing, that all men were a set of ruffians, in league against
women,--they seeming, at the same time, to forget how on their very
platforms the most constant and gallant defenders of their rights are
men. Wendell Phillips and Wentworth Higginson have put at the service of
the cause masculine training and manly vehemence, and complacently
accepted the wholesale abuse of their own sex at the hands of their
warrior sisters. One would think, were all they say of female powers
true, that our Joan-of-Arcs ought to have disdained to fight under male
captains."

"I think," said my wife, "that, in all this talk about the rights of
men, and the rights of women, and the rights of children, the world
seems to be forgetting what is quite as important, the _duties_ of men
and women and children. We all hear of our _rights_ till we forget our
_duties_; and even theology is beginning to concern itself more with
what man has a right to expect of his Creator than what the Creator has
a right to expect of man."

"You say the truth," said I; "there is danger of just this overaction;
and yet rights must be discussed; because, in order to understand the
duties we owe to any class, we must understand their rights. To know our
duties to men, women, and children, we must know what the rights of men,
women, and children justly are. As to the 'Woman's Rights movement,' it
is not peculiar to America, it is part of a great wave in the incoming
tide of modern civilization; the swell is felt no less in Europe, but it
combs over and breaks on our American shore, because our great wide
beach affords the best play for its waters; and as the ocean waves bring
with them kelp, sea-weed, mud, sand, gravel, and even putrefying debris,
which lie unsightly on the shore, and yet, on the whole, are healthful
and refreshing,--so the Woman's Rights movement, with its conventions,
its speech-makings, its crudities, and eccentricities, is nevertheless a
part of a healthful and necessary movement of the human race towards
progress. This question of Woman and her Sphere is now, perhaps, the
greatest of the age. We have put Slavery under foot, and with the
downfall of Slavery the only obstacle to the success of our great
democratic experiment is overthrown, and there seems no limit to the
splendid possibilities which it may open before the human race.

"In the reconstruction that is now coming there lies more than the
reconstruction of States and the arrangement of the machinery of
government. We need to know and feel, all of us, that, from the moment
of the death of Slavery, we parted finally from the _régime_ and control
of all the old ideas formed under old oppressive systems of society, and
came upon a new plane of life.

"In this new life we must never forget that we are a peculiar people,
that we have to walk in paths unknown to the Old World,--paths where its
wisdom cannot guide us, where its precedents can be of little use to us,
and its criticisms, in most cases, must be wholly irrelevant. The
history of our war has shown us of how little service to us in any
important crisis the opinions and advice of the Old World can be. We
have been hurt at what seemed to us the want of sympathy, the direct
antagonism, of England. We might have been less hurt if we had properly
understood that Providence had placed us in a position so far ahead of
her ideas or power of comprehension, that just judgment or sympathy was
not to be expected from her.

"As we went through our great war with no help but that of God, obliged
to disregard the misconceptions and impertinences which the foreign
press rained down upon us, so, if we are wise, we shall continue to do.
Our object must now be to make the principles on which our government is
founded permeate consistently the mass of society, and to purge out the
leaven of aristocratic and Old World ideas. So long as there is an
illogical working in our actual life, so long as there is any class
denied equal rights with other classes, so long will there be agitation
and trouble."

"Then," said my wife, "you believe that women ought to vote?"

"If the principle on which we founded our government is true, that
taxation must not exist without representation, and if women hold
property and are taxed, it follows that women should be represented in
the State by their votes, or there is an illogical working of our
government."

"But, my dear, don't you think that this will have a bad effect on the
female character?"

"Yes," said Bob, "it will make women caucus-holders, political
candidates."

"It may make this of some women, just as of some men," said I. "But all
men do not take any great interest in politics; it is very difficult to
get some of the best of them to do their duty in voting; and the same
will be found true among women."

"But, after all," said Bob, "what do you gain? What will a woman's vote
be but a duplicate of that of her husband or father, or whatever man
happens to be her adviser?"

"That may be true on a variety of questions; but there are subjects on
which the vote of women would, I think, be essentially different from
that of men. On the subjects of temperance, public morals, and
education, I have no doubt that the introduction of the female vote into
legislation, in States, counties, and cities, would produce results very
different from that of men alone. There are thousands of women who would
close grogshops, and stop the traffic in spirits, if they had the
legislative power; and it would be well for society if they had. In
fact, I think that a State can no more afford to dispense with the vote
of women in its affairs than a family. Imagine a family where the female
has no voice in the housekeeping! A State is but a larger family, and
there are many of its concerns which equally with those of a private
household would be bettered by female supervision."

"But fancy women going to those horrible voting-places! It is more than
I can do myself," said Bob.

"But you forget," said I, "that they are horrible and disgusting
principally because women never go to them. All places where women are
excluded tend downward to barbarism; but the moment she is introduced,
there come in with her courtesy, cleanliness, sobriety, and order. When
a man can walk up to the ballot-box with his wife or his sister on his
arm, voting-places will be far more agreeable than now; and the polls
will not be such bear-gardens that refined men will be constantly
tempted to omit their political duties there.

"If for nothing else, I would have women vote, that the business of
voting may not be so disagreeable and intolerable to men of refinement
as it now is; and I sincerely believe that the cause of good morals,
good order, cleanliness, and public health would be a gainer, not merely
by the added feminine vote, but by the added vote of a great many
excellent, but too fastidious men, who are now kept from the polls by
the disagreeables they meet there.

"Do you suppose, that, if women had equal representation with men in the
municipal laws of New York, its reputation for filth during the last
year would have gone so far beyond that of Cologne, or any other city
renowned for bad smells? I trow not. I believe a _lady-mayoress_ would
have brought in a dispensation of brooms and whitewash, and made a
terrible searching into dark holes and vile corners, before now.
_Female_ New York, I have faith to believe, has yet left in her enough
of the primary instincts of womanhood to give us a clean, healthy city,
if female votes had any power to do it."

"But," said Bob, "you forget that voting would bring together all the
women of the lower classes."

"Yes; but thanks to the instincts of their sex, they would come in their
Sunday clothes; for where is the woman that hasn't her finery, and will
not embrace every chance to show it? Biddy's parasol, and hat with pink
ribbons, would necessitate a clean shirt in Pat as much as on Sunday.
Voting would become a _fête_, and we should have a population at the
polls as well dressed as at church. Such is my belief."

"I do not see," said Bob, "but you go to the full extent with our modern
female reformers."

"There are certain neglected truths, which have been held up by these
reformers, that are gradually being accepted and infused into the life
of modern society; and their recognition will help to solidify and
purify democratic institutions. They are,--

"1. The right of every woman to hold independent property.

"2. The right of every woman to receive equal pay with man for work
which she does equally well.

"3. The right of any woman to do any work for which, by her natural
organization and talent, she is peculiarly adapted.

"Under the first head, our energetic sisters have already, by the help
of their gallant male adjutants, reformed the laws of several of our
States, so that a married woman is no longer left the unprotected legal
slave of any unprincipled, drunken spendthrift who may be her
husband,--but, in case of the imbecility or improvidence of the natural
head of the family, the wife, if she have the ability, can conduct
business, make contracts, earn and retain money for the good of the
household; and I am sure no one can say that immense injustice and
cruelty are not thereby prevented.

"It is quite easy for women who have the good fortune to have just and
magnanimous husbands to say that they feel no interest in such reforms,
and that they would willingly trust their property to the man to whom
they give themselves; but they should remember that laws are not made
for the restraint of the generous and just, but of the dishonest and
base. The law which enables a married woman to hold her own property
does not forbid her to give it to the man of her heart, if she so
pleases; and it does protect many women who otherwise would be reduced
to the extremest misery. I once knew an energetic milliner who had her
shop attached four times, and a flourishing business broken up in four
different cities, because she was tracked from city to city by a
worthless spendthrift, who only waited till she had amassed a little
property in a new place to swoop down upon and carry it off. It is to be
hoped that the time is not distant when every State will give to woman a
fair chance to the ownership and use of her own earnings and her own
property.

"Under the head of the right of every woman to do any work for which by
natural organization and talent she is especially adapted, there is a
word or two to be said.

"The talents and tastes of the majority of women are naturally domestic.
The family is evidently their sphere, because in all ways their
organization fits them for that more than for anything else.

"But there are occasionally women who are exceptions to the common law,
gifted with peculiar genius and adaptations. With regard to such women,
there has never seemed to be any doubt in the verdict of mankind, that
they ought to follow their nature, and that their particular _sphere_
was the one to which they are called. Did anybody ever think that Mrs.
Siddons and Mrs. Kemble and Ristori had better have applied themselves
sedulously to keeping house, because they were women, and 'woman's
noblest station is retreat?'

"The world has always shown a fair average of good sense in this
matter,--from the days of the fair Hypatia in Alexandria, who, we are
told, gave lectures on philosophy behind a curtain, lest her charms
should distract the attention of too impressible young men, down to
those of Anna Dickinson. Mankind are not, after all, quite fools, and
seem in these cases to have a reasonable idea that exceptional talents
have exceptional laws, and make their own code of proprieties.

"Now there is no doubt that Miss Dickinson, though as relating to her
femininity she is quite as pretty and modest a young woman as any to be
found in the most sheltered circle, has yet a most exceptional talent
for public speaking, which draws crowds to hear her, and makes lecturing
for her a lucrative profession, as well as a means of advocating just
and generous sentiments, and of stimulating her own sex to nobler
purposes; and the same law which relates to Siddons and Kemble and
Ristori relates also to her.

"The doctrine of _vocations_ is a good one and a safe one. If a woman
mistakes her vocation, so much the worse for her; the world does not
suffer, but she does, and the suffering speedily puts her where she
belongs. There is not near so much danger from attempts to imitate Anna
Dickinson, as there is from the more common feminine attempts to rival
the _demi-monde_ of Paris in fantastic extravagance and luxury.

"As to how a woman may determine whether she has any such vocation,
there is a story quite in point. A good Methodist elder was listening to
an ardent young mechanic, who thought he had a call to throw up his shop
and go to preaching.

"'I feel,' said the young ardent, 'that I have a call to preach.'

"'Hast thou noticed whether people seem to have a call to hear thee?'
said the shrewd old man. 'I have always noticed that a true call of the
Lord may be known by this, that people have a _call_ to hear.'"

"Well," said Bob, "the most interesting question still remains: What are
to be the employments of woman? What ways are there for her to use her
talents, to earn her livelihood and support those who are dear to her,
when Providence throws that necessity upon her? This is becoming more
than ever one of the pressing questions of our age. The war has deprived
so many thousands of women of their natural protectors, that everything
must be thought of that may possibly open a way for their self-support."

"Well, let us look over the field," said my wife. "What is there for
woman?"

"In the first place," said I, "come the professions requiring natural
genius,--authorship, painting, sculpture, with the subordinate arts of
photographing, coloring, and finishing; but when all is told, these
furnish employment to a very limited number,--almost as nothing to the
whole. Then there is teaching, which is profitable in its higher
branches, and perhaps the very pleasantest of all the callings open to
woman; but teaching is at present an overcrowded profession, the
applicants everywhere outnumbering the places. Architecture and
landscape-gardening are arts every way suited to the genius of woman,
and there are enough who have the requisite mechanical skill and
mathematical education; and though never yet thought of for the sex,
that I know of, I do not despair of seeing those who shall find in this
field a profession at once useful and elegant. When women plan
dwelling-houses, the vast body of tenements to be let in our cities
will wear a more domestic and comfortable air, and will be built more
with reference to the real wants of their inmates."

"I have thought," said Bob, "that _agencies_ of various sorts, as
canvassing the country for the sale of books, maps, and engravings,
might properly employ a great many women. There is a large class whose
health suffers from confinement and sedentary occupations, who might, I
think, be both usefully and agreeably employed in business of this sort,
and be recruiting their health at the same time."

"Then," said my wife, "there is the medical profession."

"Yes," said I. "The world is greatly obliged to Miss Blackwell and other
noble pioneers who faced and overcame the obstacles to the attainment of
a thorough medical education by females. Thanks to them, a new and
lucrative profession is now open to educated women in relieving the
distresses of their own sex; and we may hope that in time, through their
intervention, the care of the sick may also become the vocation of
cultivated, refined, intelligent women, instead of being left, as
heretofore, to the ignorant and vulgar. The experience of our late war
has shown us what women of a high class morally and intellectually can
do in this capacity. Why should not this experience inaugurate a new and
sacred calling for refined and educated women? Why should not NURSING
become a vocation equal in dignity and in general esteem to the medical
profession, of which it is the right hand? Why should our dearest hopes,
in the hour of their greatest peril, be committed into the hands of
Sairey Gamps, when the world has seen Florence Nightingales?"

"Yes, indeed," said my wife; "I can testify, from my own experience,
that the sufferings and dangers of the sick-bed, for the want of
intelligent, educated nursing, have been dreadful. A prejudiced,
pig-headed, snuff-taking old woman, narrow-minded and vulgar, and more
confident in her own way than seven men that can render a reason, enters
your house at just the hour and moment when all your dearest earthly
hopes are brought to a crisis. She becomes absolute dictator over your
delicate, helpless wife and your frail babe,--the absolute dictator of
all in the house. If it be her sovereign will and pleasure to enact all
sorts of physiological absurdities in the premises, who shall say her
nay? 'She knows her business, she hopes!' And if it be her edict, as it
was of one of her class whom I knew, that each of her babies shall eat
four baked beans the day it is four days old, eat them it must; and if
the baby die in convulsions four days after, it is set down as the
mysterious will of an overruling Providence.

"I know and have seen women lying upon laced pillows under silken
curtains, who have been bullied and dominated over in the hour of their
greatest helplessness by ignorant and vulgar tyrants, in a way that
would scarce be thought possible in civilized society, and children that
have been injured or done to death by the same means. A celebrated
physician told me of a babe whose eyesight was nearly ruined by its
nurse taking a fancy to wash its eyes with camphor, 'to keep it from
catching cold,' she said. I knew another infant that was poisoned by the
nurse giving it laudanum in some of those patent nostrums which these
ignorant creatures carry secretly in their pockets, to secure quiet in
their little charges. I knew one delicate woman who never recovered from
the effects of being left at her first confinement in the hands of an
ill-tempered, drinking nurse, and whose feeble infant was neglected and
abused by this woman in a way to cause lasting injury. In the first four
weeks of infancy the constitution is peculiarly impressible; and infants
of a delicate organization may, if frightened and ill-treated, be the
subjects of just such a shock to the nervous system as in mature age
comes from the sudden stroke of a great affliction or terror. A bad
nurse may affect nerves predisposed to weakness in a manner they never
will recover from. I solemnly believe that the constitutions of more
women are broken up by bad nursing in their first confinement than by
any other cause whatever. And yet there are at the same time hundreds
and thousands of women wanting the means of support, whose presence in a
sick-room would be a benediction. I do trust that Miss Blackwell's band
of educated nurses will not be long in coming, and that the number of
such may increase till they effect a complete revolution in this
vocation. A class of cultivated, well-trained, intelligent nurses would
soon elevate the employment of attending on the sick into the noble
calling it ought to be, and secure for it its appropriate rewards."

"There is another opening for woman," said I,--"in the world of
business. The system of commercial colleges now spreading over our land
is a new and a most important development of our times. There that large
class of young men who have either no time or no inclination for an
extended classical education can learn what will fit them for that
active material life which in our broad country needs so many workers.
But the most pleasing feature of these institutions is, that the
complete course is open to women no less than to men, and women there
may acquire that knowledge of book-keeping and accounts, and of the
forms and principles of business transactions, which will qualify them
for some of the lucrative situations hitherto monopolized by the other
sex. And the expenses of the course of instruction are so arranged as
to come within the scope of very moderate means. A fee of fifty dollars
entitles a woman to the benefit of the whole course, and she has the
privilege of attending at any hours that may suit her own engagements
and convenience."

"Then, again," said my wife, "there are the departments of millinery and
dressmaking, and the various branches of needle-work, which afford
employment to thousands of women; there is type-setting, by which many
are beginning to get a living; there are the manufactures of cotton,
woollen, silk, and the numberless useful articles which employ female
hands in their fabrication,--all of them opening avenues by which, with
more or less success, a subsistence can be gained."

"Well, really," said Bob, "it would appear, after all, that there are
abundance of openings for women. What is the cause of the outcry and
distress? How is it that we hear of women starving, driven to vice and
crime by want, when so many doors of useful and profitable employment
stand open to them?"

"The question would easily be solved," said my wife, "if you could once
see the kind and class of women who thus suffer and starve. There may be
exceptions, but too large a portion of them are girls and women who _can
or will do no earthly thing well_,--and what is worse, are not willing
to take the pains to be taught to do anything well. I will describe to
you one girl, and you will find in every intelligence-office a hundred
of her kind to five thoroughly trained ones.

"Imprimis: she is rather delicate and genteel-looking, and you may know
from the arrangement of her hair just what the last mode is of disposing
of rats or waterfalls. She has a lace bonnet with roses, a silk
mantilla, a silk dress trimmed with velvet, a white skirt with sixteen
tucks and an embroidered edge, a pair of cloth gaiters, underneath which
are a pair of stockings without feet, the only pair in her possession.
She has no under-linen, and sleeps at night in the working-clothes she
wears in the day. She never seems to have in her outfit either comb,
brush, or tooth-brush of her own,--neither needles, thread, scissors,
nor pins; her money, when she has any, being spent on more important
articles, such as the lace bonnet or silk mantilla, or the rats and
waterfalls that glorify her head. When she wishes to sew, she borrows
what is needful of a convenient next neighbor; and if she gets a place
in a family as second girl, she expects to subsist in these respects by
borrowing of the better-appointed servants, or helping herself from the
family stores.

"She expects, of course, the very highest wages, if she condescends to
live out; and by help of a trim outside appearance and the many
vacancies that are continually occurring in households, she gets places,
where her object is to do just as little of any duty assigned to her as
possible, to hurry through her performances, put on her fine clothes,
and go a-gadding. She is on free and easy terms with all the men she
meets, and ready at jests and repartee, sometimes far from seemly. Her
time of service in any one place lasts indifferently from a fortnight to
two or three months, when she takes her wages, buys her a new parasol in
the latest style, and goes back to the intelligence-office. In the
different families where she has lived she has been told a hundred times
the proprieties of household life, how to make beds, arrange rooms, wash
china, glass, and silver, and set tables; but her habitual rule is to
try in each place how small and how poor services will be accepted. When
she finds less will not do, she gives more. When the mistress follows
her constantly, and shows an energetic determination to be well served,
she shows that she _can_ serve well; but the moment such attention
relaxes, she slides back again. She is as destructive to a house as a
fire; the very spirit of wastefulness is in her; she cracks the china,
dents the silver, stops the water-pipes with rubbish, and after she is
gone, there is generally a sum equal to half her wages to be expended in
repairing the effects of her carelessness. And yet there is one thing
to be said for her: she is quite as careful of her employer's things as
of her own. The full amount of her mischiefs often does not appear at
once, as she is glib of tongue, adroit in apologies, and lies with as
much alertness and as little thought of conscience as a blackbird
chatters. It is difficult for people who have been trained from
childhood in the school of verities,--who have been lectured for even
the shadow of a prevarication, and shut up in disgrace for a lie, till
truth becomes a habit of their souls,--it is very difficult for people
so educated to understand how to get on with those who never speak the
truth except by mere accident, who assert any and everything that comes
into their heads with all the assurance and all the energy of perfect
verity.

"What becomes of this girl? She finds means, by begging, borrowing,
living out, to keep herself extremely trim and airy for a certain length
of time, till the rats and waterfalls, the lace hat and parasol, and the
glib tongue, have done their work in making a fool of some honest young
mechanic who earns three dollars a day. She marries him with no higher
object than to have somebody to earn money for her to spend. And what
comes of such marriages?

"That is _one_ ending of her career; the other is on the street, in
haunts of vice, in prison, in drunkenness, and death.

"Whence come these girls? They are as numerous as yellow butterflies in
autumn; they flutter up to cities from the country; they grow up from
mothers who ran the same sort of career before them; and the reason why
in the end they fall out of all reputable employment and starve on poor
wages is, that they become physically, mentally, and morally incapable
of rendering any service which society will think worth paying for."

"I remember," said I, "that the head of the most celebrated dress-making
establishment in New York, in reply to the appeals of the needle-women
of the city for sympathy and wages, came out with published statements
to this effect: that the difficulty lay not in unwillingness of
employers to pay what work was worth, but in finding any work worth
paying for; that she had many applicants, but among them few who could
be of real use to her; that she, in common with everybody in this
country who has any kind of serious responsibilities to carry, was
continually embarrassed for want of skilled work-people, who could take
and go on with the labor of her various departments without her constant
supervision; that out of a hundred girls, there would not be more than
five to whom she could give a dress to be made and dismiss it from her
mind as something certain to be properly done.

"Let people individually look around their own little sphere, and ask
themselves if they know any woman really excelling in any _valuable_
calling or accomplishment who is suffering for want of work. All of us
know seamstresses, dress-makers, nurses, and laundresses, who have made
themselves such a reputation, and are so beset and overcrowded with
work, that the whole neighborhood is constantly on its knees to them
with uplifted hands. The fine seamstress, who can cut and make
trousseaus and layettes in elegant perfection, is always engaged six
months in advance; the pet dress-maker of a neighborhood must be engaged
in May for September, and in September for May; a laundress who sends
your clothes home in nice order always has all the work that she can do.
Good work in any department is the rarest possible thing in our American
life; and it is a fact that the great majority of workers, both in the
family and out, do only tolerably well,--not so badly that it actually
cannot be borne, yet not so well as to be a source of real, thorough
satisfaction. The exceptional worker in every neighborhood, who does
things really _well_, can always set her own price, and is always having
more offering than she can possibly do.

"The trouble, then, in finding employment for women lies deeper than the
purses or consciences of the employers; it lies in the want of education
in women; the want of _education_, I say,--meaning by education that
which fits a woman for practical and profitable employment in life, and
not mere common school learning."

"Yes," said my wife; "for it is a fact that the most troublesome and
hopeless persons to provide for are often those who have a good medium
education, but no feminine habits, no industry, no practical
calculation, no muscular strength, and no knowledge of any one of
woman's peculiar duties. In the earlier days of New England, women, as a
class, had far fewer opportunities for acquiring learning, yet were far
better educated, physically and morally, than now. The high school did
not exist; at the common school they learned reading, writing, and
arithmetic, and practised spelling; while at home they did the work of
the household. They were cheerful, bright, active, ever on the alert,
able to do anything, from the harnessing and driving of a horse to the
finest embroidery. The daughters of New England in those days looked the
world in the face without a fear. They shunned no labor; they were
afraid of none; and they could always find their way to a living."

"But although less instructed in school learning," said I, "they showed
no deficiency in intellectual acumen. I see no such women, nowadays, as
some I remember of that olden time,--women whose strong minds and ever
active industry carried on reading and study side by side with
household toils.

"I remember a young lady friend of mine, attending a celebrated
boarding-school, boarded in the family of a woman who had never been to
school longer than was necessary to learn to read and write, yet who was
a perfect cyclopedia of general information. The young scholar used to
take her Chemistry and Natural Philosophy into the kitchen, where her
friend was busy with her household work, and read her lessons to her,
that she might have the benefit of her explanations; and so, while the
good lady scoured her andirons or kneaded her bread, she lectured to her
_protégée_ on mysteries of science far beyond the limits of the
text-book. Many of the graduates of our modern high schools would find
it hard to shine in conversation on the subjects they had studied, in
the searching presence of some of these vigorous matrons of the olden
time, whose only school had been the leisure hours gained by energy and
method from their family cares."

"And in those days," said my wife, "there lived in our families a class
of American domestics, women of good sense and good powers of
reflection, who applied this sense and power of reflection to household
matters. In the early part of my married life, I myself had American
'help'; and they were not only excellent servants, but trusty and
invaluable friends. But now, all this class of applicants for domestic
service have disappeared, I scarce know why or how. All I know is, there
is no more a Betsey or a Lois, such as used to take domestic cares off
my shoulders so completely."

"Good heavens! where are they?" cried Bob. "Where do they hide? I would
search through the world after such a prodigy!"

"The fact is," said I, "there has been a slow and gradual reaction
against household labor in America. Mothers began to feel that it was a
sort of _curse_, to be spared, if possible, to their daughters; women
began to feel that they were fortunate in proportion as they were able
to be entirely clear of family responsibilities. Then Irish labor began
to come in, simultaneously with a great advance in female education.

"For a long while nothing was talked of, written of, thought of, in
teachers' meetings, conventions, and assemblies, but the neglected state
of female education; and the whole circle of the arts and sciences was
suddenly introduced into our free-school system, from which needle-work
as gradually and quietly was suffered to drop out. The girl who attended
the primary and high school had so much study imposed on her that she
had no time for sewing or housework; and the delighted mother was only
too happy to darn her stockings and do the housework alone, that her
daughter might rise to a higher plane than she herself had attained to.
The daughter, thus educated, had, on coming to womanhood, no solidity of
muscle, no manual dexterity, no practice or experience in domestic life;
and if she were to seek a livelihood, there remained only teaching, or
some feminine trade, or the factory."

"These factories," said my wife, "have been the ruin of hundreds and
hundreds of our once healthy farmers' daughters and others from the
country. They go there young and unprotected; they live there in great
boarding-houses, and associate with a promiscuous crowd, without even
such restraints of maternal supervision as they would have in great
boarding-schools; their bodies are enfeebled by labor often necessarily
carried on in a foul and heated atmosphere; and at the hours when off
duty, they are exposed to all the dangers of unwatched intimacy with the
other sex.

"Moreover, the factory-girl learns and practises but one thing,--some
one mechanical movement, which gives no scope for invention, ingenuity,
or any other of the powers called into play by domestic labor; so that
she is in reality unfitted in every way for family duties.

"Many times it has been my lot to try, in my family service, girls who
have left factories; and I have found them wholly useless for any of the
things which a woman ought to be good for. They knew nothing of a house,
or what ought to be done in it; they had imbibed a thorough contempt of
household labor, and looked upon it but as a _dernier ressort_; and it
was only the very lightest of its tasks that they could even begin to
think of. I remember I tried to persuade one of these girls, the pretty
daughter of a fisherman, to take some lessons in washing and ironing.
She was at that time engaged to be married to a young mechanic, who
earned something like two or three dollars a day.

"'My child,' said I, 'you will need to understand all kinds of
housework, if you are going to be married.'

"She tossed her little head,--

"'Indeed, she wasn't going to trouble herself about that.'

"'But who will get up your husband's shirts?'

"'O, he must put them out. I'm not going to be married to make a slave
of myself!'

"Another young factory-girl, who came for table and parlor work, was so
full of airs and fine notions, that it seemed as difficult to treat with
her as with a princess. She could not sweep, because it blistered her
hands, which, in fact, were long and delicate; she could not think of
putting them into hot dish-water, and for that reason preferred washing
the dishes in cold water; she required a full hour in the morning to
make her toilet; she was laced so tightly that she could not stoop
without vertigo, and her hoops were of dimensions which seemed to render
it impossible for her to wait upon table; she was quite exhausted with
the effort of ironing the table-napkins and chamber-towels;--yet she
could not think of 'living out' under two dollars a week.

"Both these girls had had a good free-school education, and could read
any amount of novels, write a tolerable letter, but had not learned
anything with sufficient accuracy to fit them for teachers. They were
pretty, and their destiny was to marry and lie a dead weight on the
hands of some honest man, and to increase, in their children, the number
of incapables."

"Well," said Bob, "what would you have? What is to be done?"

"In the first place," said I, "I would have it felt by those who are
seeking to elevate woman, that the work is to be done, not so much by
creating for her new spheres of action as by elevating her conceptions
of that domestic vocation to which God and Nature have assigned her. It
is all very well to open to her avenues of profit and advancement in the
great outer world; but, after all, _to make and keep a home_ is, and
ever must be, a woman's first glory, her highest aim. No work of art can
compare with a perfect home; the training and guiding of a family must
be recognized as the highest work a woman can perform; and female
education ought to be conducted with special reference to this.

"Men are _trained_ to be lawyers, to be physicians, to be mechanics, by
long and self-denying study and practice. A man cannot even make shoes
merely by going to the high school, and learning reading, writing, and
mathematics; he cannot be a book-keeper or a printer simply from general
education.

"Now women have a sphere and profession of their own,--a profession for
which they are fitted by physical organization, by their own instincts,
and to which they are directed by the pointing and manifest finger of
God,--and that sphere is _family life_.

"Duties to the State and to public life they may have; but the public
duties of women must bear to their family ones the same relation that
the family duties of men bear to their public ones.

"The defect in the late efforts to push on female education is, that it
has been for her merely general, and that it has left out and excluded
all that is professional; and she undertakes the essential duties of
womanhood, when they do devolve on her, without any adequate
preparation."

"But is it possible for a girl to learn at school the things which fit
her for family life?" said Bob.

"Why not?" I replied. "Once it was thought impossible in schools to
teach girls geometry, or algebra, or the higher mathematics; it was
thought impossible to put them through collegiate courses; but it has
been done, and we see it. Women study treatises on political economy in
schools; and why should not the study of domestic economy form a part of
every school course? A young girl will stand up at the blackboard, and
draw and explain the compound blowpipe, and describe all the process of
making oxygen and hydrogen. Why should she not draw and explain a
refrigerator as well as an air-pump? Both are to be explained on
philosophical principles. When a school-girl, in her Chemistry, studies
the reciprocal action of acids and alkalies, what is there to hinder the
teaching her its application to the various processes of cooking where
acids and alkalies are employed? Why should she not be led to see how
effervescence and fermentation can be made to perform their office in
the preparation of light and digestible bread? Why should she not be
taught the chemical substances by which food is often adulterated, and
the tests by which such adulterations are detected? Why should she not
understand the processes of confectionery, and know how to guard
against the deleterious or poisonous elements that are introduced into
children's sugar-plums and candies? Why, when she learns the doctrine of
_mordants_, the substances by which different colors are set, should she
not learn it with some practical view to future life, so that she may
know how to set the color of a fading calico or restore the color of a
spotted one? Why, in short, when a girl has labored through a profound
chemical work, and listened to courses of chemical lectures, should she
come to domestic life, which presents a constant series of chemical
experiments and changes, and go blindly along as without chart or
compass, unable to tell what will take out a stain, or what will
brighten a metal, what are common poisons and what their antidotes, and
not knowing enough of the laws of caloric to understand how to warm a
house, or of the laws of atmosphere to know how to ventilate one? Why
should the preparation of food, that subtile art on which life, health,
cheerfulness, good temper, and good looks so largely depend, forever be
left in the hands of the illiterate and vulgar?

"A benevolent gentleman has lately left a large fortune for the founding
of a university for women; and the object is stated to be to give women
who have already acquired a general education the means of acquiring a
professional one, to fit themselves for some employment by which they
may gain a livelihood.

"In this institution the women are to be instructed in book-keeping,
stenography, telegraphing, photographing, drawing, modelling, and
various other arts; but so far as I remember, there is no proposal to
teach domestic economy as at least _one_ of woman's professions.

"Why should there not be a professor of domestic economy in every large
female school? Why should not this professor give lectures, first on
house-planning and building, illustrated by appropriate apparatus? Why
should not the pupils have presented to their inspection models of
houses planned with reference to economy, to ease of domestic service,
to warmth, to ventilation, and to architectural appearance? Why should
not the professor go on to lecture further on house-fixtures, with
models of the best mangles, washing-machines, clothes-wringers, ranges,
furnaces, and cooking-stoves, together with drawings and apparatus
illustrative of domestic hydraulics, showing the best contrivances for
bathing-rooms and the obvious principles of plumbing, so that the pupils
may have some idea how to work the machinery of a convenient house when
they have it, and to have such conveniences introduced when wanting? If
it is thought worth while to provide, at great expense, apparatus for
teaching the revolutions of Saturn's moons and the precession of the
equinoxes, why should there not be some also to teach what it may
greatly concern a woman's earthly happiness to know?

"Why should not the professor lecture on home-chemistry, devoting his
first lecture to bread-making? and why might not a batch of bread be
made and baked and exhibited to the class, together with specimens of
morbid anatomy in the bread line,--the sour cotton bread of the
baker,--the rough, big-holed bread,--the heavy, fossil bread,--the
bitter bread of too much yeast,--and the causes of their defects pointed
out? And so with regard to the various articles of food,--why might not
chemical lectures be given on all of them, one after another? In short,
it would be easy to trace out a course of lectures on common things to
occupy a whole year, and for which the pupils, whenever they come to
have homes of their own, will thank the lecturer to the last day of
their life.

"Then there is no impossibility in teaching needle-work, the cutting and
fitting of dresses, in female schools. The thing is done very perfectly
in English schools for the working classes. A girl trained at one of
these schools came into a family I once knew. She brought with her a
sewing-book, in which the process of making various articles was
exhibited in miniature. The several parts of a shirt were first shown,
each perfectly made, and fastened to a leaf of the book by itself, and
then the successive steps of uniting the parts, till finally appeared a
miniature model of the whole. The sewing was done with red thread, so
that every stitch might show, and any imperfection be at once remedied.
The same process was pursued with regard to other garments, and a good
general idea of cutting and fitting them was thus given to an entire
class of girls.

"In the same manner the care and nursing of young children and the
tending of the sick might be made the subject of lectures. Every woman
ought to have some general principles to guide her with regard to what
is to be done in case of the various accidents that may befall either
children or grown people, and of their lesser illnesses, and ought to
know how to prepare comforts and nourishment for the sick. Hawthorne's
satirical remarks upon the contrast between the elegant Zenobia's
conversation and the smoky porridge she made for him when he was an
invalid might apply to the volunteer cookery of many charming women."

"I think," said Bob, "that your Professor of Domestic Economy would find
enough to occupy his pupils."

"In fact," said I, "were domestic economy properly honored and properly
taught, in the manner described, it would open a sphere of employment
to so many women in the home life, that we should not be obliged to send
our women out to California or the Pacific to put an end to an anxious
and aimless life.

"When domestic work is sufficiently honored to be taught as an art and
science in our boarding-schools and high schools, then possibly it may
acquire also dignity in the eyes of our working classes, and young girls
who have to earn their own living may no longer feel degraded in
engaging in domestic service. The place of a domestic in a family may
become as respectable in their eyes as a place in a factory, in a
printing-office, in a dressmaking or millinery establishment, or behind
the counter of a shop.

"In America there is no class which will confess itself the lower class,
and a thing recommended solely for the benefit of any such class finds
no one to receive it.

"If the intelligent and cultivated look down on household work with
disdain; if they consider it as degrading, a thing to be shunned by
every possible device; they may depend upon it that the influence of
such contempt of woman's noble duties will flow downward, producing a
like contempt in every class in life.

"Our sovereign princesses learn the doctrine of equality very quickly,
and are not going to sacrifice themselves to what is not considered _de
bon ton_ by the upper classes; and the girl with the laced hat and
parasol, without under-clothes, who does her best to 'shirk' her duties
as housemaid, and is looking for marriage as an escape from work, is a
fair copy of her mistress, who married for much the same reason, who
hates housekeeping, and would rather board or do anything else than have
the care of a family;--the one is about as respectable as the other.

"When housekeeping becomes an enthusiasm, and its study and practice a
fashion, then we shall have in America that class of persons to rely on
for help in household labors who are now going to factories, to
printing-offices, to every kind of toil, forgetful of the best life and
sphere of woman."



III.

A FAMILY-TALK ON RECONSTRUCTION.


Our Chimney-Corner, of which we have spoken somewhat, has, besides the
wonted domestic circle, its _habitués_ who have a frequent seat there.
Among these, none is more welcome than Theophilus Thoro.

Friend Theophilus was born on the shady side of Nature, and endowed by
his patron saint with every grace and gift which can make a human
creature worthy and available, except the gift of seeing the bright side
of things. His bead-roll of Christian virtues includes all the graces of
the spirit except hope; and so, if one wants to know exactly the flaw,
the defect, the doubtful side, and to take into account all the untoward
possibilities of any person, place, or thing, he had best apply to
friend Theophilus. He can tell you just where and how the best-laid
scheme is likely to fail, just the screw that will fall loose in the
smoothest-working machinery, just the flaw in the most perfect
character, just the defect in the best-written book, just the variety of
thorn that must accompany each particular species of rose.

Yet Theophilus is without guile or malice. His want of faith in human
nature is not bitter and censorious, but melting and pitiful. "We are
all poor trash, miserable dogs together," he seems to say, as he looks
out on the world and its ways. There is not much to be expected of or
for any of us; but let us love one another, and be patient.

Accordingly, Theophilus is one of the most incessant workers for human
good, and perseveringly busy in every scheme of benevolent enterprise,
in all which he labors with melancholy steadiness without hope. In
religion he has the soul of a martyr,--nothing would suit him better
than to be burned alive for his faith; but his belief in the success of
Christianity is about on a par with that of the melancholy disciple of
old, who, when Christ would go to Judæa, could only say, "Let us also
go, that we may die with him." Theophilus is always ready to die for the
truth and the right, for which he never sees anything but defeat and
destruction ahead.

During the late war, Theophilus has been a despairing patriot, dying
daily, and giving all up for lost in every reverse from Bull Run to
Fredericksburg. The surrender of Richmond and the capitulation of Lee
shortened his visage somewhat; but the murder of the President soon
brought it back to its old length. It is true, that, while Lincoln
lived, he was in a perpetual state of dissent from all his measures. He
had broken his heart for years over the miseries of the slaves, but he
shuddered at the Emancipation Proclamation; a whirlwind of anarchy was
about to sweep over the country, in which the black and the white would
dash against each other, and be shivered like potters' vessels. He was
in despair at the accession of Johnson,--believing the worst of the
unfavorable reports that clouded his reputation. Nevertheless, he was
among the first of loyal citizens to rally to the support of the new
administration, because, though he had no hope in that, he could see
nothing better.

You must not infer from all this that friend Theophilus is a social wet
blanket, a goblin shadow at the domestic hearth. By no means. Nature has
gifted him with that vein of humor and that impulse to friendly
joviality which are frequent developments in sad-natured men, and often
deceive superficial observers as to their real character. He who laughs
well and makes you laugh is often called a man of cheerful disposition;
yet in many cases nothing can be further from it than precisely this
kind of person.

Theophilus frequents our chimney-corner, perhaps because Mrs. Crowfield
and myself are, so to speak, children of the light and the day. My wife
has precisely the opposite talent to that of our friend. She can
discover the good point, the sound spot, where others see only defect
and corruption. I myself am somewhat sanguine, and prone rather to
expect good than evil, and with a vast stock of faith in the excellent
things that may turn up in the future. The Millennium is one of the
prime articles of my creed; and all the ups and downs of society I
regard only as so many jolts on a very rough road that is taking the
world on, through many upsets and disasters, to that final consummation.

Theophilus holds the same belief, theoretically; but it is apt to sink
so far out of sight in the mire of present disaster as to be of very
little comfort to him.

"Yes," he said, "we are going to ruin, in my view, about as fast as we
can go. Miss Jennie, I will trouble you for another small lump of sugar
in my tea."

"You have been saying that, about our going to ruin, every time you have
taken tea here for four years past," said Jennie; "but I always noticed
that your fears never spoiled your relish either for tea or muffins.
People talk about being on the brink of a volcano, and the country going
to destruction, and all that, just as they put pepper on their
potatoes; it is an agreeable stimulant in conversation,--that's all."

"For my part," said my wife, "I can speak in another vein. When had we
ever in all our history so _bright_ prospects, so much to be thankful
for? Slavery is abolished; the last stain of disgrace is wiped from our
national honor. We stand now before the world self-consistent with our
principles. We have come out of one of the severest struggles that ever
tried a nation, purer and stronger in morals and religion, as well as
more prosperous in material things."

"My dear madam, excuse me," said Theophilus; "but I cannot help being
reminded of what an English reviewer once said,--that a lady's facts
have as much poetry in them as Tom Moore's lyrics. Of course poetry is
always agreeable, even though of no statistical value."

"I see no poetry in my facts," said Mrs. Crowfield. "Is not slavery
forever abolished, by the confession of its best friends,--even of those
who declare its abolition a misfortune, and themselves ruined in
consequence?"

"I confess, my dear madam, that we have succeeded as we human creatures
commonly do, in supposing that we have destroyed an evil, when we have
only changed its name. We have contrived to withdraw from the slave just
that fiction of property relation which made it for the interest of
some one to care for him a little, however imperfectly; and having
destroyed that, we turn him out defenceless to shift for himself in a
community every member of which is imbittered against him. The whole
South resounds with the outcries of slaves suffering the vindictive
wrath of former masters; laws are being passed hunting them out of this
State and out of that; the animosity of race--at all times the most
bitter and unreasonable of animosities--is being aroused all over the
land. And the Free States take the lead in injustice to them. Witness a
late vote of Connecticut on the suffrage question. The efforts of
government to protect the rights of these poor defenceless creatures are
about as energetic as such efforts always have been and always will be
while human nature remains what it is. For a while the obvious rights of
the weaker party will be confessed, with some show of consideration, in
public speeches; they will be paraded by philanthropic sentimentalists,
to give point to their eloquence; they will be here and there sustained
in governmental measures, when there is no strong temptation to the
contrary, and nothing better to be done; but the moment that political
combinations begin to be formed, all the rights and interests of this
helpless people will be bandied about as so, many make-weights in the
political scale. Any troublesome lion will have a negro thrown to him
to keep him quiet. All their hopes will be dashed to the ground by the
imperious Southern white, no longer feeling for them even the interest
of a master, and regarding them with a mixture of hatred and loathing as
the cause of all his reverses. Then if, driven to despair, they seek to
defend themselves by force, they will be crushed by the power of the
government, and ground to powder, as the weak have always been under the
heel of the strong.

"So much for our abolition of slavery. As to our material prosperity, it
consists of an inflated paper currency, an immense debt, a giddy,
foolhardy spirit of speculation and stock-gambling, and a perfect furor
of extravagance, which is driving everybody to live beyond his means,
and casting contempt on the republican virtues of simplicity and
economy.

"As to advancement in morals, there never was so much intemperance in
our people before, and the papers are full of accounts of frauds,
defalcations, forgeries, robberies, assassinations, and arsons. Against
this tide of corruption the various organized denominations of religion
do nothing effectual. They are an army shut up within their own
intrenchments, holding their own with difficulty, and in no situation to
turn back the furious assaults of the enemy."

"In short," said Jennie, "according to your showing, the whole country
is going to destruction. Now, if things really are so bad, if you really
believe all you have been saying, you ought not to be sitting drinking
your tea as you are now, or to have spent the afternoon playing croquet
with us girls; you ought to gird yourself with sackcloth, and go up and
down the land, raising the alarm, and saying, 'Yet forty days and
Nineveh shall be overthrown.'"

"Well," said Theophilus, while a covert smile played about his lips,
"you know the saying, 'Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow,' etc. Things
are not yet _gone_ to destruction, only _going_,--and why not have a
good time on deck before the ship goes to pieces? Your chimney-corner is
a tranquil island in the ocean of trouble, and your muffins are
absolutely perfect. I'll take another, if you'll please to pass them."

"I've a great mind _not_ to pass them," said Jennie. "Are you in earnest
in what you are saying? or are you only saying it for sensation? How
_can_ people believe such things and be comfortable? _I_ could not. If I
believed all you have been saying I could not sleep nights,--I should be
perfectly miserable; and _you_ cannot really believe all this, or you
would be."

"My dear child," said Mrs. Crowfield, "our friend's picture is the truth
painted with all its shadows and none of its lights. All the dangers he
speaks of are real and great, but he omits the counterbalancing good.
Let _me_ speak now. There never has been a time in our history when so
many honest and just men held power in our land as now,--never a
government before in which the public councils recognized with more
respect the just and the right. There never was an instance of a
powerful government showing more tenderness in the protection of a weak
and defenceless race than ours has shown in the care of the freedmen
hitherto. There never was a case in which the people of a country were
more willing to give money and time and disinterested labor to raise and
educate those who have thus been thrown on their care. Considering that
we have had a great, harassing, and expensive war on our hands, I think
the amount done by government and individuals for the freedmen
unequalled in the history of nations; and I do not know why it should be
predicted from this past fact, that, in the future, both government and
people are about to throw them to the lions, as Mr. Theophilus supposes.
Let us wait, at least, and see. So long as government maintains a
freedmen's bureau, administered by men of such high moral character, we
must think, at all events, that there are strong indications in the
right direction. Just think of the immense advance of public opinion
within four years, and of the grand successive steps of this
advance,--Emancipation in the District of Columbia, the Repeal of the
Fugitive Slave Law, the General Emancipation Act, the Amendment of the
Constitution. All these do not look as if the black were about to be
ground to powder beneath the heel of the white. If the negroes are
oppressed in the South, they can emigrate; no laws hold them; active,
industrious laborers will soon find openings in any part of the Union."

"No," said Theophilus, "there will be black laws like those of Illinois
and Tennessee, there will be turbulent uprisings of the Irish, excited
by political demagogues, that will bar them out of Northern States.
Besides, as a class, they _will_ be idle and worthless. It will not be
their fault, but it will be the result of their slave education. All
their past observation of their masters has taught them that liberty
means licensed laziness, that work means degradation,--and therefore
they will loathe work, and cherish laziness as the sign of liberty. 'Am
not I free? Have I not as good a right to do nothing as you?' will be
the cry.

"Already the lazy whites, who never lifted a hand in any useful
employment, begin to raise the cry that 'niggers won't work'; and I
suspect the cry may not be without reason. Industrious citizens can
never be made in a community where the higher class think useful labor a
disgrace. The whites will oppose the negro in every effort to rise; they
will debar him of every civil and social right; they will set him the
worst possible example, as they have been doing for hundreds of years;
and then they will hound and hiss at him for being what they made him.
This is the old track of the world,--the good, broad, reputable road on
which all aristocracies and privileged classes have been always
travelling; and it's not likely that we shall have much of a secession
from it. The Millennium isn't so near us as that, by a great deal."

"It's all very well arguing from human selfishness and human sin in that
way," said I; "but you can't take up a newspaper that doesn't contain
abundant facts to the contrary. Here, now,"--and I turned to the
Tribune,--"is one item that fell under my eye accidentally, as you were
speaking:--

"'The Superintendent of Freedmen's Affairs in Louisiana, in making up
his last Annual Report, says he has 1,952 blacks settled temporarily on
9,650 acres of land, who last year raised crops to the value of
$175,000, and that he had but few worthless blacks under his care; and
that, as a class, the blacks have fewer vagrants than can be found among
any other class of persons.'

"Such testimonies gem the newspapers like stars."

"Newspapers of your way of thinking, very likely," said Theophilus; "but
if it comes to statistics, I can bring counter-statements, numerous and
dire, from scores of Southern papers, of vagrancy, laziness,
improvidence, and wretchedness."

"Probably both are true," said I, "according to the greater or less care
which has been taken of the blacks in different regions. Left to
themselves, they tend downward, pressed down by the whole weight of
semi-barbarous white society; but when the free North protects and
guides, the results are as you see."

"And do you think the free North has salt enough in it to save this
whole Southern mass from corruption? I wish I could think so; but all I
can see in the free North at present is a raging, tearing, headlong
chase after _money_. Now money is of significance only as it gives
people the power of expressing their ideal of life. And what does this
ideal prove to be among us? Is it not to ape all the splendors and vices
of old aristocratic society? Is it not to be able to live in idleness,
without useful employment, a life of glitter and flutter and show? What
do our New York dames of fashion seek after? To avoid family care, to
find servants at any price who will relieve them of home
responsibilities, and take charge of their houses and children while
they shine at ball and opera, and drive in the park. And the servants
who learn of these mistresses,--what do they seek after? _They_ seek
also to get rid of care, to live as nearly as possible without work, to
dress and shine in their secondary sphere, as the mistresses do in the
primary one. High wages with little work and plenty of company express
Biddy's ideal of life, which is a little more respectable than that of
her mistress, who wants high wages with no work. The house and the
children are not Biddy's; and why should she care more for their
well-being than the mistress and the mother?

"Hence come wranglings and moanings. Biddy uses a chest of tea in three
months, and the amount of the butcher's bill is fabulous; Jane gives the
baby laudanum to quiet it, while she slips out to _her_ parties; and the
upper classes are shocked at the demoralized state of the Irish, their
utter want of faithfulness and moral principle! How dreadful that there
are no people who enjoy the self-denials and the cares which they
dislike, that there are no people who rejoice in carrying that burden of
duties which they do not wish to touch with one of their fingers! The
outcry about the badness of servants means just this: that everybody is
tired of self-helpfulness,--the servants as thoroughly as the masters
and mistresses. All want the cream of life, without even the trouble of
skimming; and the great fight now is, who shall drink the skim-milk,
which nobody wants. _Work_,--honorable toil,--manly, womanly
endeavor,--is just what nobody likes; and this is as much a fact in the
free North as in the slave South.

"What are all the young girls looking for in marriage? Some man with
money enough to save them from taking any care or having any trouble in
domestic life, enabling them, like the lilies of the field, to rival
Solomon in all his glory, while they toil not, neither do they spin; and
when they find that even money cannot purchase freedom from care in
family life, because their servants are exactly of the same mind with
themselves, and hate to do their duties as cordially as they themselves
do, then are they in anguish of spirit, and wish for slavery, or
aristocracy, or anything that would give them power over the lower
classes."

"But surely, Mr. Theophilus," said Jennie, "there is no sin in disliking
trouble, and wanting to live easily and have a good time in one's
life,--it's so very natural."

"No sin, my dear, I admit; but there is a certain amount of work and
trouble that somebody must take to carry on the family and the world;
and the mischief is, that all are agreed in wanting to get rid of it.
Human nature is above all things lazy. I am lazy myself. Everybody is.
The whole struggle of society is as to who shall eat the hard
bread-and-cheese of labor, which must be eaten by somebody. Nobody wants
it,--neither you in the parlor, nor Biddy in the kitchen.

"'The mass ought to labor, and _we_ lie on sofas,' is a sentence that
would unite more subscribers than any confession of faith that ever was
presented, whether religious or political; and its subscribers would be
as numerous and sincere in the Free States as in the Slave States, or I
am much mistaken in my judgment. The negroes are men and women, like any
of the rest of us, and particularly apt in the imitation of the ways and
ideas current in good society; and consequently to learn to play on the
piano, and to have nothing in particular to do, will be the goal of
aspiration among colored girls and women, and to do housework will seem
to them intolerable drudgery, simply because it is so among the fair
models to whom they look up in humble admiration. You see, my dear, what
it is to live in a democracy. It deprives us of the vantage-ground on
which we cultivated people can stand and say to our neighbor,--'The
cream is for me, and the skim-milk for you; the white bread for me, and
the brown for you. I am born to amuse myself and have a good time, and
you are born to do everything that is tiresome and disagreeable to me.'
The 'My Lady Ludlows' of the Old World can stand on their platform and
lecture the lower classes from the Church Catechism, to 'order
themselves lowly and reverently to all their betters'; and they can base
their exhortations on the old established law of society by which some
are born to inherit the earth, and live a life of ease and pleasure,
and others to toil without pleasure or amusement, for their support and
aggrandizement. An aristocracy, as I take it, is a combination of human
beings to divide life into two parts, one of which shall comprise all
social and moral advantages, refinement, elegance, leisure, ease,
pleasure, and amusement,--and the other, incessant toil, with the
absence of every privilege and blessing of human existence. Life thus
divided, we aristocrats keep the good for ourselves and our children,
and distribute the evil as the lot of the general mass of mankind. The
desire to monopolize and to dominate is the most rooted form of human
selfishness; it is the hydra with many heads, and, cut off in one place,
it puts out in another.

"Nominally, the great aristocratic arrangement of American society has
just been destroyed; but really, I take it, the essential _animus_ of
the slave system still exists, and pervades the community, North as well
as South. Everybody is wanting to get the work done by somebody else,
and to take the money himself; the grinding between employers and
employed is going on all the time, and the field of controversy has only
been made wider by bringing in a whole new class of laborers. The Irish
have now the opportunity to sustain their aristocracy over the negro.
Shall they not have somebody to look down upon?

"All through free society, employers and employed are at incessant
feud; and the more free and enlightened the society, the more bitter the
feud. The standing complaint of life in America is the badness of
servants; and England, which always follows at a certain rate behind us
in our social movements, is beginning to raise very loudly the same
complaint. The condition of service has been thought worthy of public
attention in some of the leading British prints; and Ruskin, in a
summing-up article, speaks of it as a deep ulcer in society,--a thing
hopeless of remedy."

"My dear Mr. Theophilus," said my wife, "I cannot imagine whither you
are rambling, or to what purpose you are getting up these horrible
shadows. You talk of the world as if there were no God in it, overruling
the selfishness of men, and educating it up to order and justice. I do
not deny that there is a vast deal of truth in what you say. Nobody
doubts that, in general, human nature _is_ selfish, callous, unfeeling,
willing to engross all good to itself, and to trample on the rights of
others. Nevertheless, thanks to God's teaching and fatherly care, the
world has worked along to the point of a great nation founded on the
principles of strict equality, forbidding all monopolies, aristocracies,
privileged classes, by its very constitution; and now, by God's
wonderful providence, this nation has been brought, and forced, as it
were, to overturn and abolish the only aristocratic institution that
interfered with its free development. Does not this look as if a
Mightier Power than ours were working in and for us, supplementing our
weakness and infirmity? and if we believe that man is always ready to
drop everything and let it run back to evil, shall we not have faith
that God will _not_ drop the noble work he has so evidently taken in
hand in this nation?"

"And I want to know," said Jennie, "why your illustrations of
selfishness are all drawn from the female sex. Why do you speak of
_girls_ that marry for money, any more than men? of _mistresses_ of
families that want to be free from household duties and
responsibilities, rather than of masters?"

"My charming young lady," said Theophilus, "it is a fact that in
America, except the slaveholders, women have hitherto been the only
aristocracy. Women have been the privileged class,--the only one to
which our rough democracy has always and everywhere given the
precedence,--and consequently the vices of aristocrats are more
developed in them as a class than among men. The leading principle of
aristocracy, which is to take pay without work, to live on the toils and
earnings of others, is one which obtains more generally among women than
among men in this country. The men of our country, as a general thing,
even in our uppermost classes, always propose to themselves some work or
business by which they may acquire a fortune, or enlarge that already
made for them by their fathers. The women of the same class propose to
themselves nothing but to live at their ease on the money made for them
by the labors of fathers and husbands. As a consequence, they become
enervated and indolent,--averse to any bracing, wholesome effort, either
mental or physical. The unavoidable responsibilities and cares of a
family, instead of being viewed by them in the light of a noble
life-work, in which they do their part in the general labors of the
world, seem to them so many injuries and wrongs; they seek to turn them
upon servants, and find servants unwilling to take them; and so selfish
are they, that I have heard more than one lady declare that she didn't
care if it was unjust, she should like to have slaves, rather than be
plagued with servants who had so much liberty. All the novels, poetry,
and light literature of the world, which form the general staple of
female reading, are based upon aristocratic institutions, and
impregnated with aristocratic ideas; and women among us are constantly
aspiring to foreign and aristocratic modes of life rather than to those
of native, republican simplicity. How many women are there, think you,
that would not go in for aristocracy and aristocratic prerogatives, if
they were only sure that they themselves should be of the privileged
class? To be 'My Lady Duchess,' and to have a right by that simple title
to the prostrate deference of all the lower orders! How many would have
firmness to vote against such an establishment merely because it was bad
for society? Tell the fair Mrs. Feathercap, 'In order that you may be a
duchess, and have everything a paradise of elegance and luxury around
you and your children, a hundred poor families must have no chance for
anything better than black bread and muddy water all their lives, a
hundred poor men must work all their lives on such wages that a
fortnight's sickness will send their families to the almshouse, and that
no amount of honesty and forethought can lay up any provision for old
age.'"

"Come now, sir," said Jennie, "don't tell me that there are any girls or
women so mean and selfish as to want aristocracy or rank so purchased!
You are too bad, Mr. Theophilus!"

"Perhaps they might not, were it stated in just these terms; yet I
think, if the question of the establishment of an order of aristocracy
among us were put to vote, we should find more women than men who would
go for it; and they would flout at the consequences to society with the
lively wit and the musical laugh which make feminine selfishness so
genteel and agreeable.

"No! It is a fact, that, in America, the women, in the wealthy classes,
are like the noblemen of aristocracies, and the men are the workers. And
in all this outcry that has been raised about women's wages being
inferior to those of men there is one thing overlooked,--and that is,
that women's work is generally inferior to that of men, because in every
rank they are the pets of society, and are excused from the laborious
drill and training by which men are fitted for their callings. Our fair
friends come in generally by some royal road to knowledge, which saves
them the dire necessity of real work,--a sort of feminine
hop-skip-and-jump into science or mechanical skill,--nothing like the
uncompromising hard labor to which the boy is put who would be a
mechanic or farmer, a lawyer or physician.

"I admit freely that we men are to blame for most of the faults of our
fair nobility. There is plenty of heroism, abundance of energy, and love
of noble endeavor lying dormant in these sheltered and petted daughters
of the better classes; but _we_ keep it down and smother it. Fathers and
brothers think it discreditable to themselves not to give their
daughters and sisters the means of living in idleness; and any
adventurous fair one, who seeks to end the ennui of utter aimlessness by
applying herself to some occupation whereby she may earn her own living,
infallibly draws down on her the comments of her whole
circle:--'Keeping school, is she? Isn't her father rich enough to
support her? What could possess her?'"

"I am glad, my dear Sir Oracle, that you are beginning to recollect
yourself and temper your severities on our sex," said my wife. "As
usual, there is much truth lying about loosely in the vicinity of your
assertions; but they are as far from being in themselves the truth as
would be their exact opposites.

"The class of American women who travel, live abroad, and represent our
country to the foreign eye, have acquired the reputation of being
Sybarites in luxury and extravagance, and there is much in the modes of
life that are creeping into our richer circles to justify this.

"Miss Murray, ex-maid-of-honor to the Queen of England, among other
impressions which she received from an extended tour through our
country, states it as her conviction that young American girls of the
better classes are less helpful in nursing the sick and in the general
duties of family life than the daughters of the aristocracy of England;
and I am inclined to believe it, because even the Queen has taken
special pains to cultivate habits of energy and self-helpfulness in her
children. One of the toys of the Princess Royal was said to be a cottage
of her own, furnished with every accommodation for cooking and
housekeeping, where she from time to time enacted the part of
housekeeper, making bread and biscuit, boiling potatoes which she
herself had gathered from her own garden-patch, and inviting her royal
parents to meals of her own preparing; and report says, that the
dignitaries of the German court have been horrified at the energetic
determination of the young royal housekeeper to overlook her own
linen-closets and attend to her own affairs. But as an offset to what I
have been saying, it must be admitted that America is a country where a
young woman can be self-supporting without forfeiting her place in
society. All our New England and Western towns show us female teachers
who are as well received and as much caressed in society, and as often
contract advantageous marriages, as any women whatever; and the
productive labor of American women, in various arts, trades, and
callings, would be found, I think, not inferior to that of any women in
the world.

"Furthermore, the history of the late war has shown them capable of
every form of heroic endeavor. We have had hundreds of Florence
Nightingales, and an amount of real hard work has been done by female
hands not inferior to that performed by men in the camp and field, and
enough to make sure that American womanhood is not yet so enervated as
seriously to interfere with the prospects of free republican society."

"I wonder," said Jennie, "what it is in our country that spoils the
working-classes that come into it. They say that the emigrants, as they
land here, are often simple-hearted people, willing to work, accustomed
to early hours and plain living, decorous and respectful in their
manners. It would seem as if aristocratic drilling had done them good.
In a few months they become brawling, impertinent, grasping, want high
wages, and are very unwilling to work. I went to several
intelligence-offices the other day to look for a girl for Marianne, and
I thought, by the way the candidates catechized the ladies, and the airs
they took upon them, that they considered themselves the future
mistresses interrogating their subordinates.

"'Does ye expect me to do the washin' with the cookin'?'

"'Yes.'

"'Thin I'll niver go to that place!'

"'And does ye expect me to get the early breakfast for yer husband to be
off in the train every mornin'?'

"'Yes.'

"'I niver does that,--that ought to be a second girl's work.'

"'How many servants does ye keep, ma'am?'

"'Two.'

"'I niver lives with people that keeps but two servants.'

"'How many has ye in yer family?'

"'Seven.'

"'That's too large a family. Has ye much company?'

"'Yes, we have company occasionally.'

"'Thin I can't come to ye; it'll be too harrd a place.'

"In fact, the thing they were all in quest of seemed to be a very small
family, with very high wages, and many perquisites and privileges.

"This is the kind of work-people our manners and institutions make of
people that come over here. I remember one day seeing a coachman touch
his cap to his mistress when she spoke to him, as is the way in Europe,
and hearing one or two others saying among themselves,--

"'That chap's a greenie; he'll get over that soon.'"

"All these things show," said I, "that the staff of power has passed
from the hands of gentility into those of labor. We may think the
working-classes somewhat unseemly in their assertion of self-importance;
but, after all, are they, considering their inferior advantages of
breeding, any more overbearing and impertinent than the upper classes
have always been to them in all ages and countries?

"When Biddy looks long, hedges in her work with many conditions, and is
careful to get the most she can for the least labor, is she, after all,
doing any more than you or I or all the rest of the world? I myself will
not write articles for five dollars a page, when there are those who
will give me fifteen. I would not do double duty as an editor on a
salary of seven thousand, when I could get ten thousand for less work.

"Biddy and her mistress are two human beings, with the same human wants.
Both want to escape trouble, to make their life comfortable and easy,
with the least outlay of expense. Biddy's capital is her muscles and
sinews; and she wants to get as many greenbacks in exchange for them as
her wit and shrewdness will enable her to do. You feel, when you bargain
with her, that she is nothing to you, except so far as her strength and
knowledge may save you care and trouble; and she feels that you are
nothing to her, except so far as she can get your money for her work.
The free-and-easy airs of those seeking employment show one thing,--that
the country in general is prosperous, and that openings for profitable
employment are so numerous that it is not thought necessary to try to
conciliate favor. If the community were at starvation-point, and the
loss of a situation brought fear of the almshouse, the laboring-class
would be more subservient. As it is, there is a little spice of the
bitterness of a past age of servitude in their present attitude,--a
bristling, self-defensive impertinence, which will gradually smooth away
as society learns to accommodate itself to the new order of things."

"Well, but, papa," said Jennie, "don't you think all this a very severe
test, if applied to us women particularly, more than to the men? Mr.
Theophilus seems to think women are aristocrats, and go for enslaving
the lower classes out of mere selfishness; but I say that we are a great
deal more strongly tempted than men, because all these annoyances and
trials of domestic life come upon us. It is very insidious, the
aristocratic argument, as it appeals to us; there seems much to be said
in its favor. It does appear to me that it is better to have servants
and work-people tidy, industrious, respectful, and decorous, as they are
in Europe, than domineering, impertinent, and negligent, as they are
here,--and it seems that there is something in our institutions that
produces these disagreeable, traits; and I presume that the negroes will
eventually be travelling the same road as the Irish, and from the same
influences.

"When people see all these things, and feel all the inconveniences of
them, I don't wonder that they are tempted not to like democracy, and to
feel as if aristocratic institutions made a more agreeable state of
society. It is not such a blank, bald, downright piece of brutal
selfishness as Mr. Theophilus there seems to suppose, for us to wish
there were some quiet, submissive, laborious lower class, who would be
content to work for kind treatment and moderate wages."

"But, my little dear," said I, "the matter is not left to our choice.
Wish it or not wish it, it's what we evidently can't have. The day for
that thing is past. The power is passing out of the hands of the
cultivated few into those of the strong, laborious many. _Numbers_ is
the king of our era; and he will reign over us, whether we will hear or
whether we will forbear. The sighers for an obedient lower class and the
mourners for slavery may get ready their crape, and have their
pocket-handkerchiefs bordered with black; for they have much weeping to
do, and for many years to come. The good old feudal times, when two
thirds of the population thought themselves born only for the honor,
glory, and profit of the other third, are gone, with all their beautiful
devotions, all their trappings of song and story. In the land where such
institutions were most deeply rooted and most firmly established, they
are assailed every day by hard hands and stout hearts; and their
position resembles that of some of the picturesque ruins of Italy, which
are constantly being torn away to build prosaic modern shops and houses.

"This great democratic movement is coming down into modern society with
a march as irresistible as the glacier moves down from the mountains.
Its front is in America,--and behind are England, France, Italy,
Prussia, and the Mohammedan countries. In all, the rights of the
laboring masses are a living force, bearing slowly and inevitably all
before it. Our war has been a marshalling of its armies, commanded by a
hard-handed, inspired man of the working-class. An intelligent American,
recently resident in Egypt, says it was affecting to notice the interest
with which the working-classes there were looking upon our late struggle
in America, and the earnestness of their wishes for the triumph of the
Union. 'It is our cause, it is for us,' they said, as said the
cotton-spinners of England and the silk-weavers of Lyons. The forces of
this mighty movement are still directed by a man from the lower orders,
the sworn foe of exclusive privileges and landed aristocracies. If Andy
Johnson is consistent with himself, with the principles which raised him
from a tailor's bench to the head of a mighty nation, he will see to it
that the work that Lincoln began is so thoroughly done, that every man
and every woman in America, of whatever race or complexion, shall have
exactly equal rights before the law, and be free to rise or fall
according to their individual intelligence, industry, and moral worth.
So long as everything is not strictly in accordance with our principles
of democracy, so long as there is in any part of the country an
aristocratic upper class who despise labor, and a laboring lower class
that is denied equal political rights, so long this grinding and discord
between the two will never cease in America. It will make trouble not
only in the South, but in the North,--trouble between all employers and
employed,--trouble in every branch and department of labor,--trouble in
every parlor and every kitchen.

"What is it that has driven every American woman out of domestic
service, when domestic service is full as well paid, is easier,
healthier, and in many cases far more agreeable, than shop and factory
work? It is, more than anything else, the influence of slavery in the
South,--its insensible influence on the minds of mistresses, giving them
false ideas of what ought to be the position and treatment of a female
citizen in domestic service, and its very marked influence on the minds
of freedom-loving Americans, causing them to choose _any_ position
rather than one which is regarded as assimilating them to slaves. It is
difficult to say what are the very worst results of a system so
altogether bad as that of slavery; but one of the worst is certainly the
utter contempt it brings on useful labor, and the consequent utter
physical and moral degradation of a large body of the whites; and this
contempt of useful labor has been constantly spreading like an infection
from the Southern to the Northern States, particularly among women, who,
as our friend here has truly said, are by our worship and exaltation of
them made peculiarly liable to take the malaria of aristocratic society.
Let anybody observe the conversation in good society for an hour or two,
and hear the tone in which servant-girls, seamstresses, mechanics, and
all who work for their living, are sometimes mentioned, and he will see,
that, while every one of the speakers professes to regard useful labor
as respectable, she is yet deeply imbued with the leaven of aristocratic
ideas.

"In the South the contempt for labor bred of slavery has so permeated
society, that we see great, coarse, vulgar _lazzaroni_ lying about in
rags and vermin, and dependent on government rations, maintaining, as
their only source of self-respect, that they never have done and never
_will_ do a stroke of useful work, in all their lives. In the North
there are, I believe, no _men_ who would make such a boast; but I think
there are many women--beautiful, fascinating _lazzaroni_ of the parlor
and boudoir--who make their boast of elegant helplessness and utter
incompetence for any of woman's duties with equal _naïveté_. The
Spartans made their slaves drunk, to teach their children the evils of
intoxication; and it seems to be the policy of a large class in the
South now to keep down and degrade the only working-class they have, for
the sake of teaching their children to despise work.

"We of the North, who know the dignity of labor, who know the value of
free and equal institutions, who have enjoyed advantages for seeing
their operation, ought, in true brotherliness, to exercise the power
given us by the present position of the people of the Southern States,
and put things thoroughly right _for_ them, well knowing, that, though
they may not like it at the moment, they will like it in the end, and
that it will bring them peace, plenty, and settled prosperity, such as
they have long envied here in the North. It is no kindness to an invalid
brother, half recovered from delirium, to leave him a knife to cut his
throat with, should he be so disposed. We should rather appeal from
Philip drunk to Philip sober, and do real kindness, trusting to the
future for our meed of gratitude.

"Giving equal political rights to all the inhabitants of the Southern
States will be their shortest way to quiet and to wealth. It will avert
what is else almost certain,--a war of races; since all experience shows
that the ballot introduces the very politest relations between the
higher and lower classes. If the right be restricted, let it be by
requirements of property and education, applying to all the population
equally.

"Meanwhile, we citizens and citizenesses of the North should remember
that Reconstruction means something more than setting things right in
the Southern States. We have saved our government and institutions, but
we have paid a fearful price for their salvation; and we ought to prove
now that they are worth the price.

"The empty chair, never to be filled,--the light gone out on its
candlestick, never on earth to be rekindled,--gallant souls that have
exhaled to heaven in slow torture and starvation,--the precious blood
that has drenched a hundred battle-fields,--all call to us with warning
voices, and tell us not to let such sacrifices be in vain. They call on
us by our clear understanding of the great principles of democratic
equality, for which our martyred brethren suffered and died, to show to
all the world that their death was no mean and useless waste, but a
glorious investment for the future of mankind.

"This war, these sufferings, these sacrifices, ought to make every
American man and woman look on himself and herself as belonging to a
royal priesthood, a peculiar people. The blood of our slain ought to be
a gulf, wide and deep as the Atlantic, dividing us from the opinions and
the practices of countries whose government and society are founded on
other and antagonistic ideas. Democratic republicanism has never yet
been perfectly worked out either in this or any other country. It is a
splendid edifice, half built, deformed by rude scaffolding, noisy with
the clink of trowels, blinding the eyes with the dust of lime, and
endangering our heads with falling brick. We make our way over heaps of
shavings and lumber to view the stately apartments,--we endanger our
necks in climbing ladders standing in the place of future staircases;
but let us not for all this cry out that the old rat-holed mansions of
former ages, with their mould, and moss, and cockroaches, are better
than this new palace. There is no lime-dust, no clink of trowels, no
rough scaffolding there, to be sure, and life goes on very quietly; but
there is the foul air of slow and sure decay.

"Republican institutions in America are in a transition state; they have
not yet separated themselves from foreign and antagonistic ideas and
traditions, derived from old countries; and the labors necessary for the
upbuilding of society are not yet so adjusted that there is mutual
pleasure and comfort in the relations of employer and employed. We still
incline to class-distinctions and aristocracies. We incline to the
scheme of dividing the world's work into two orders: first, physical
labor, which is held to be rude and vulgar, and the province of a lower
class; and second, brain labor, held to be refined and aristocratic,
and the province of a higher class. Meanwhile, the Creator, who is the
greatest of levellers, has given to every human being _both_ a physical
system, needing to be kept in order by physical labor, and an
intellectual or brain power, needing to be kept in order by brain labor.
_Work_, use, employment, is the condition of health in both; and he who
works either to the neglect of the other lives but a half-life, and is
an imperfect human being.

"The aristocracies of the Old World claim that their only labor should
be that of the brain; and they keep their physical system in order by
violent exercise, which is made genteel from the fact only that it is
not useful or productive. It would be losing caste to refresh the
muscles by handling the plough or the axe; and so foxes and hares must
be kept to be hunted, and whole counties turned into preserves, in order
that the nobility and gentry may have physical exercise in a way
befitting their station,--that is to say, in a way that produces
nothing, and does good only to themselves.

"The model republican uses his brain for the highest purposes of brain
work, and his muscles in _productive_ physical labor; and useful labor
he respects above that which is merely agreeable.

"When this equal respect for physical and mental labor shall have taken
possession of every American citizen, there will be no so-called
laboring class; there will no more be a class all muscle without brain
power to guide it, and a class all brain without muscular power to
execute. The labors of society will be lighter, because each individual
will take his part in them; they will be performed better, because no
one will be overburdened.

"In those days, Miss Jennie, it will be an easier matter to keep house,
because, housework being no longer regarded as degrading drudgery, you
will find a superior class of women ready to engage in it.

"Every young girl and woman, who in her sphere and by her example shows
that she is not ashamed of domestic labor, and that she considers the
necessary work and duties of family life as dignified and important, is
helping to bring on this good day. Louis Philippe once jestingly
remarked,--'I have this qualification for being a king in these days,
that I have blacked my own boots, and could black them again.'

"Every American ought to cultivate, as his pride and birthright, the
habit of self-helpfulness. Our command of the labors of good _employés_
in any department is liable to such interruptions, that he who has
blacked his own boots, and can do it again, is, on the whole, likely to
secure the most comfort in life.

"As to that which Mr. Ruskin pronounces to be a deep, irremediable
ulcer in society, namely, domestic service, we hold that the last
workings of pure democracy will cleanse and heal it. When right ideas
are sufficiently spread,--when everybody is self-helpful and capable of
being self-supporting,--when there is a fair start for every human being
in the race of life, and all its prizes are, without respect of persons,
to be obtained by the best runner,--when every kind of useful labor is
thoroughly respected,--then there will be a clear, just, wholesome basis
of intercourse on which employers and employed can move without
wrangling or discord.

"Renouncing all claims to superiority on the one hand, and all thought
of servility on the other, service can be rendered by fair contracts and
agreements, with that mutual respect and benevolence which every human
being owes to every other.

"But for this transition period, which is wearing out the life of so
many women, and making so many households uncomfortable, I have some
alleviating suggestions, which I shall give in my next chapter."



IV.

IS WOMAN A WORKER?


"Papa, do you see what the Evening Post says of your New-Year's article
on Reconstruction?" said Jennie, as we were all sitting in the library
after tea.

"I have not seen it."

"Well, then, the charming writer, whoever he is, takes up for us girls
and women, and maintains that no work of any sort ought to be expected
of us; that our only mission in life is to be beautiful, and to refresh
and elevate the spirits of men by being so. If I get a husband, my
mission is to be always becomingly dressed, to display most captivating
toilettes, and to be always in good spirits,--as, under the
circumstances, I always should be,--and thus 'renew his spirits' when he
comes in weary with the toils of life. Household cares are to be far
from me: they destroy my cheerfulness and injure my beauty.

"He says that the New England standard of excellence as applied to
woman has been a mistaken one; and, in consequence, though the girls are
beautiful, the matrons are faded, overworked, and uninteresting; and
that such a state of society tends to immorality, because, when wives
are no longer charming, men are open to the temptation to desert their
firesides, and get into mischief generally. He seems particularly to
complain of your calling ladies who do nothing the 'fascinating
_lazzaroni_ of the parlor and boudoir.'"

"There was too much truth back of that arrow not to wound," said
Theophilus Thoro, who was ensconced, as usual, in his dark corner,
whence he supervises our discussions.

"Come, Mr. Thoro, we won't have any of your bitter moralities," said
Jennie; "they are only to be taken as the invariable bay-leaf which
Professor Blot introduces into all his recipes for soups and stews,--a
little elegant bitterness, to be kept tastefully in the background. You
see now, papa, I should like the vocation of being beautiful. It would
just suit me to wear point-lace and jewelry, and to have life revolve
round me, as some beautiful star, and feel that I had nothing to do but
shine and refresh the spirits of all gazers, and that in this way I was
truly useful, and fulfilling the great end of my being; but alas for
this doctrine! all women have not beauty. The most of us can only hope
not to be called ill-looking, and, when we get ourselves up with care,
to look fresh and trim and agreeable; which fact interferes with the
theory."

"Well, for my part," said young Rudolph, "I go for the theory of the
beautiful. If ever I marry, it is to find an asylum for ideality. I
don't want to make a culinary marriage or a business partnership. I want
a being whom I can keep in a sphere of poetry and beauty, out of the
dust and grime of every-day life."

"Then," said Mr. Theophilus, "you must either be a rich man in your own
right, or your fair ideal must have a handsome fortune of her own."

"I never will marry a rich wife," quoth Rudolph. "My wife must be
supported by me, not I by her."

Rudolph is another of the _habitués_ of our chimney-corner, representing
the order of young knighthood in America, and his dreams and fancies, if
impracticable, are always of a kind to make every one think him a good
fellow. He who has no romantic dreams at twenty-one will be a horribly
dry peascod at fifty; therefore it is that I gaze reverently at all
Rudolph's chateaus in Spain, which want nothing to complete them except
solid earth to stand on.

"And pray," said Theophilus, "how long will it take a young lawyer or
physician, starting with no heritage but his own brain, to create a
sphere of poetry and beauty in which to keep his goddess? How much a
year will be necessary, as the English say, to _do_ this garden of Eden,
whereinto shall enter only the poetry of life?"

"I don't know. I haven't seen it near enough to consider. It is because
I know the difficulty of its attainment that I have no present thoughts
of marriage. Marriage is to me in the bluest of all blue distances,--far
off, mysterious, and dreamy as the Mountains of the Moon or sources of
the Nile. It shall come only when I have secured a fortune that shall
place my wife above all necessity of work or care."

"I desire to hear from you," said Theophilus, "when you have found the
sum that will keep a woman from care. I know of women now inhabiting
palaces, waited on at every turn by servants, with carriages, horses,
jewels, laces, cashmeres, enough for princesses, who are eaten up by
care. One lies awake all night on account of a wrinkle in the waist of
her dress; another is dying because no silk of a certain inexpressible
shade is to be found in New York; a third has had a dress sent home,
which has proved such a failure that life seems no longer worth having.
If it were not for the consolations of religion, one doesn't know what
would become of her. The fact is, that care and labor are as much
correlated to human existence as shadow is to light; there is no such
thing as excluding them from any mortal lot. You may make a canary-bird
or a goldfish live in absolute contentment without a care or labor, but
a human being you cannot. Human beings are restless and active in their
very nature, and will do something, and that something will prove a
care, a labor, and a fatigue, arrange it how you will. As long as there
is anything to be desired and not yet attained, so long its attainment
will be attempted; so long as that attainment is doubtful or difficult,
so long will there be care and anxiety. When boundless wealth releases
woman from every family care, she immediately makes herself a new set of
cares in another direction, and has just as many anxieties as the most
toilful housekeeper, only they are of a different kind. Talk of labor,
and look at the upper classes in London or in New York in the
fashionable season. Do any women work harder? To rush from crowd to
crowd all night, night after night, seeing what they are tired of,
making the agreeable over an abyss of inward yawning, crowded, jostled,
breathing hot air, and crushed in halls and stairways, without a moment
of leisure for months and months, till brain and nerve and sense reel,
and the country is longed for as a period of resuscitation and relief!
Such is the release from labor and fatigue brought by wealth. The only
thing that makes all this labor at all endurable is, that it is utterly
and entirely useless, and does no good to any one in creation; this
alone makes it genteel, and distinguishes it from the vulgar toils of a
housekeeper. These delicate creatures, who can go to three or four
parties a night for three months, would be utterly desolate if they had
to watch one night in a sick-room; and though they can exhibit any
amount of physical endurance and vigor in crowding into assembly rooms,
and breathe tainted air in an opera-house with the most martyr-like
constancy, they could not sit one half-hour in the close room where the
sister of charity spends hours in consoling the sick or aged poor."

"Mr. Theophilus is quite at home now," said Jennie; "only start him on
the track of fashionable life, and he takes the course like a hound. But
hear, now, our champion of the Evening Post:--

"'The instinct of women to seek a life of repose, their eagerness to
attain the life of elegance, does not mean contempt for labor, but it is
a confession of unfitness for labor. Women were not intended to
work,--not because work is ignoble, but because it is as disastrous to
the beauty of a woman as is friction to the bloom and softness of a
flower. Woman is to be kept in the garden of life; she is to rest, to
receive, to praise; she is to be kept from the workshop world, where
innocence is snatched with rude hands, and softness is blistered into
unsightliness or hardened into adamant. No social truth is more in need
of exposition and illustration than this one; and, above all, the people
of New England need to know it, and, better, they need to believe it.

"'It is therefore with regret that we discover Christopher Crowfield
applying so harshly, and, as we think so indiscriminatingly, the theory
of work to women, and teaching a society made up of women sacrificed in
the workshops of the state, or to the dust-pans and kitchens of the
house, that women must work, ought to work, and are dishonored if they
do not work; and that a woman committed to the drudgery of a household
is more creditably employed than when she is charming, fascinating,
irresistible, in the parlor or boudoir. The consequence of this fatal
mistake is manifest throughout New England,--in New England, where the
girls are all beautiful and the wives and mothers faded, disfigured, and
without charm or attractiveness. The moment a girl marries in New
England she is apt to become a drudge, or a lay figure on which to
exhibit the latest fashions. She never has beautiful hands, and she
would not have a beautiful face if a utilitarian society could "apply"
her face to anything but the pleasure of the eye. Her hands lose their
shape and softness after childhood, and domestic drudgery destroys her
beauty of form and softness and bloom of complexion after marriage. To
correct, or rather to break up, this despotism of household cares, or of
work, over woman, American society must be taught that women will
inevitably fade and deteriorate, unless it insures repose and comfort to
them. It must be taught that reverence for beauty is the normal
condition, while the theory of work, applied to women, is disastrous
alike to beauty and morals. Work, when it is destructive to men or
women, is forced and unjust.

"'All the great masculine or creative epochs have been distinguished by
spontaneous work on the part of men, and universal reverence and care
for beauty. The praise of work, and sacrifice of women to this great
heartless devil of work, belong only to, and are the social doctrine of,
a mechanical age and a utilitarian epoch. And if the New England idea of
social life continues to bear so cruelly on woman, we shall have a
reaction somewhat unexpected and shocking.'"

"Well now, say what you will," said Rudolph, "you have expressed my idea
of the conditions of the sex. Woman was not made to work; she was made
to be taken care of by man. All that is severe and trying, whether in
study or in practical life, is and ought to be in its very nature
essentially the work of the male sex. The value of woman is precisely
the value of those priceless works of art for which we build
museums,--which we shelter and guard as the world's choicest heritage;
and a lovely, cultivated, refined woman, thus sheltered, and guarded,
and developed, has a worth that cannot be estimated by any gross,
material standard. So I subscribe to the sentiments of Miss Jennie's
friend without scruple."

"The great trouble in settling all these society questions," said I,
"lies in the gold-washing,--the cradling I think the miners call it. If
all the quartz were in one stratum and all the gold in another, it would
save us a vast deal of trouble. In the ideas of Jennie's friend of the
Evening Post there is a line of truth and a line of falsehood so
interwoven and threaded together that it is impossible wholly to assent
or dissent. So with your ideas, Rudolph, there is a degree of truth in
them, but there is also a fallacy.

"It is a truth, that woman as a sex ought not to do the hard work of the
world, either social, intellectual, or moral. There are evidences in her
physiology that this was not intended for her, and our friend of the
Evening Post is right in saying that any country will advance more
rapidly in civilization and refinement where woman is thus sheltered
and protected. And I think, furthermore, that there is no country in the
world where women _are_ so much considered and cared for and sheltered,
in every walk of life, as in America. In England and France,--all over
the continent of Europe, in fact,--the other sex are deferential to
women only from some presumption of their social standing, or from the
fact of acquaintanceship; but among strangers, and under circumstances
where no particular rank or position can be inferred, a woman travelling
in England or France is jostled and pushed to the wall, and left to take
her own chance, precisely as if she were not a woman. Deference to
delicacy and weakness, the instinct of protection, does not appear to
characterize the masculine population of any other quarter of the world
so much as that of America. In France, _les Messieurs_ will form a
circle round the fire in the receiving-room of a railroad station, and
sit, tranquilly smoking their cigars, while ladies who do not happen to
be of their acquaintance are standing shivering at the other side of the
room. In England, if a lady is incautiously booked for an outside place
on a coach, in hope of seeing the scenery, and the day turns out
hopelessly rainy, no gentleman in the coach below ever thinks of
offering to change seats with her, though it pour torrents. In America,
the roughest backwoods steamboat or canal-boat captain always, as a
matter of course, considers himself charged with the protection of the
ladies. '_Place aux dames_' is written in the heart of many a shaggy
fellow who could not utter a French word any more than could a buffalo.
It is just as I have before said,--women are the recognized aristocracy,
the _only_ aristocracy, of America; and, so far from regarding this fact
as objectionable, it is an unceasing source of pride in my country.

"That kind of knightly feeling towards woman which reverences her
delicacy, her frailty, which protects and cares for her, is, I think,
the crown of manhood; and without it a man is only a rough animal. But
our fair aristocrats and their knightly defenders need to be cautioned
lest they lose their position, as many privileged orders have before
done, by an arrogant and selfish use of power.

"I have said that the vices of aristocracy are more developed among
women in America than among men, and that, while there are no men in the
Northern States who are not ashamed of living a merely idle life of
pleasure, there are many women who make a boast of helplessness and
ignorance in woman's family duties which any man would be ashamed to
make with regard to man's duties, as if such helplessness and ignorance
were a grace and a charm.

"There are women who contentedly live on, year after year, a life of
idleness, while the husband and father is straining every nerve, growing
prematurely old and gray, abridged of almost every form of recreation or
pleasure,--all that he may keep them in a state of careless ease and
festivity. It may be very fine, very generous, very knightly, in the man
who thus toils at the oar that his princesses may enjoy their painted
voyages; but what is it for the women?

"A woman is a moral being--an immortal soul--before she is a woman; and
as such she is charged by her Maker with some share of the great burden
of _work_ which lies on the world.

"Self-denial, the bearing of the cross, are stated by Christ as
indispensable conditions to the entrance into his kingdom, and no
exception is made for man or woman. Some task, some burden, some cross,
each one must carry; and there must be something done in every true and
worthy life, not as amusement, but as duty,--not as play, but as earnest
_work_,--and no human being can attain to the Christian standard without
this.

"When Jesus Christ took a towel and girded himself, poured water into a
basin, and washed his disciples' feet, he performed a significant and
sacramental act, which no man or woman should ever forget. If wealth and
rank and power absolve from the services of life, then certainly were
Jesus Christ absolved, as he says,--'Ye call me Master, and Lord. If I,
then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash
one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do
as I have done to you.'

"Let a man who seeks to make a terrestrial paradise for the woman of his
heart,--to absolve her from all care, from all labor,--to teach her to
accept and to receive the labor of others without any attempt to offer
labor in return,--consider whether he is not thus going directly against
the fundamental idea of Christianity,--taking the direct way to make his
idol selfish and exacting, to rob her of the highest and noblest beauty
of womanhood.

"In that chapter of the Bible where the relation between man and woman
is stated, it is thus said, with quaint simplicity: 'It is not good that
the man should be alone; I will make him a _help meet_ for him.' Woman
the _helper_ of man, not his toy,--not a picture, not a statue, not a
work of art, but a HELPER, a doer,--such is the view of the Bible and
the Christian religion.

"It is not necessary that women should work physically or morally to an
extent which impairs beauty. In France, where woman is harnessed with an
ass to the plough which her husband drives,--where she digs, and wields
the pickaxe,--she becomes prematurely hideous; but in America, where
woman reigns as queen in every household, she may surely be a good and
thoughtful housekeeper, she may have physical strength exercised in
lighter domestic toils, not only without injuring her beauty, but with
manifest advantage to it. Almost every growing young girl would be the
better in health, and therefore handsomer, for two hours of active
housework daily; and the habit of usefulness thereby gained would be an
equal advantage to her moral development. The labors of modern,
well-arranged houses are not in any sense severe; they are as gentle as
any kind of exercise that can be devised, and they bring into play
muscles that ought to be exercised to be healthily developed.

"The great danger to the beauty of American women does not lie, as the
writer of the Post contends, in an overworking of the physical system
which shall stunt and deform; on the contrary, American women of the
comfortable classes are in danger of a loss of physical beauty from the
entire deterioration of the muscular system for want of exercise. Take
the life of any American girl in one of our large towns, and see what it
is. We have an educational system of public schools which for
intellectual culture is a just matter of pride to any country. From the
time that the girl is seven years old, her first thought, when she
rises in the morning, is to eat her breakfast and be off to her school.
There really is no more time than enough to allow her to make that
complete toilet which every well-bred female ought to make, and to take
her morning meal before her school begins. She returns at noon with just
time to eat her dinner, and the afternoon session begins. She comes home
at night with books, slate, and lessons enough to occupy her evening.
What time is there for teaching her any household work, for teaching her
to cut or fit or sew, or to inspire her with any taste for domestic
duties? Her arms have no exercise; her chest and lungs, and all the
complex system of muscles which are to be perfected by quick and active
movement, are compressed while she bends over book and slate and
drawing-board; while the ever-active brain is kept all the while going
at the top of its speed. She grows up spare, thin, and delicate; and
while the Irish girl, who sweeps the parlors, rubs the silver, and irons
the muslins, is developing a finely rounded arm and bust, the American
girl has a pair of bones at her sides, and a bust composed of cotton
padding, the work of a skilful dress-maker. Nature, who is no respecter
of persons, gives to Colleen Bawn, who uses her arms and chest, a beauty
which perishes in the gentle, languid Edith, who does nothing but study
and read."

"But is it not a fact," said Rudolph, "as stated by our friend of the
Post, that American matrons are perishing, and their beauty and grace
all withered, from overwork?"

"It is," said my wife; "but why? It is because they are brought up
without vigor or muscular strength, without the least practical
experience of household labor, or those means of saving it which come by
daily practice; and then, after marriage, when physically weakened by
maternity, embarrassed by the care of young children, they are often
suddenly deserted by every efficient servant, and the whole machinery of
a complicated household left in their weak, inexperienced hands. In the
country, you see a household perhaps made void some fine morning by
Biddy's sudden departure, and nobody to make the bread, or cook the
steak, or sweep the parlors, or do one of the complicated offices of a
family, and no bakery, cook-shop, or laundry to turn to for alleviation.
A lovely, refined home becomes in a few hours a howling desolation; and
then ensues a long season of breakage, waste, distraction, as one wild
Irish immigrant after another introduces the style of Irish cottage life
into an elegant dwelling.

"Now suppose I grant to the Evening Post that woman ought to rest, to be
kept in the garden of life, and all that, how is this to be done in a
country where a state of things like this is the commonest of
occurrences? And is it any kindness or reverence to woman, to educate
her for such an inevitable destiny by a life of complete physical
delicacy and incapacity? Many a woman who has been brought into these
cruel circumstances would willingly exchange all her knowledge of German
and Italian, and all her graceful accomplishments, for a good physical
development, and some respectable _savoir faire_ in ordinary life.

"Moreover, American matrons are overworked because some unaccountable
glamour leads them to continue to bring up their girls in the same
inefficient physical habits which resulted in so much misery to
themselves. Housework as they are obliged to do it, untrained, untaught,
exhausted, and in company with rude, dirty, unkempt foreigners, seems to
them a degradation which they will spare to their daughters. The
daughter goes on with her schools and accomplishments, and leads in the
family the life of an elegant little visitor during all those years when
a young girl might be gradually developing and strengthening her muscles
in healthy household work. It never occurs to her that she can or ought
to fill any of the domestic gaps into which her mother always steps; and
she comforts herself with the thought, 'I don't know how; I can't; I
haven't the strength. I _can't_ sweep; it blisters my hands. If I should
stand at the ironing-table an hour, I should be ill for a week. As to
cooking, I don't know anything about it.' And so, when the cook, or the
chambermaid, or nurse, or all together, vacate the premises, it is the
mamma who is successively cook, and chambermaid, and nurse; and this is
the reason why matrons fade and are overworked.

"Now, Mr. Rudolph, do you think a woman any less beautiful or
interesting because she is a fully developed physical being,--because
her muscles have been rounded and matured into strength, so that she can
meet the inevitable emergencies of life without feeling them to be
distressing hardships? If there be a competent, well-trained servant to
sweep and dust the parlor, and keep all the machinery of the house in
motion, she may very properly select her work out of the family, in some
form of benevolent helpfulness; but when the inevitable evil hour comes,
which is likely to come first or last in every American household, is a
woman any less an elegant woman because her love of neatness, order, and
beauty leads her to make vigorous personal exertions to keep her own
home undefiled? For my part, I think a disorderly, ill-kept home, a
sordid, uninviting table, has driven more husbands from domestic life
than the unattractiveness of any overworked woman. So long as a woman
makes her home harmonious and orderly, so long as the hour of assembling
around the family table is something to be looked forward to as a
comfort and a refreshment, a man cannot see that the good house fairy,
who by some magic keeps everything so delightfully, has either a wrinkle
or a gray hair.

"Besides," said I, "I must tell you, Rudolph, what you fellows of
twenty-one are slow to believe; and that is, that the kind of ideal
paradise you propose in marriage, is, in the very nature of things, an
impossibility,--that the familiarities of every-day life between two
people who keep house together must and will destroy it. Suppose you are
married to Cytherea herself, and the next week attacked with a rheumatic
fever. If the tie between you is that of true and honest love, Cytherea
will put on a gingham wrapper, and with her own sculptured hands wring
out the flannels which shall relieve your pains; and she will be no true
woman if she do not prefer to do this to employing any nurse that could
be hired. True love ennobles and dignifies the material labors of life;
and homely services rendered for love's sake have in them a poetry that
is immortal.

"No true-hearted woman can find herself, in real, actual life, unskilled
and unfit to minister to the wants and sorrows of those dearest to her,
without a secret sense of degradation. The feeling of uselessness is an
extremely unpleasant one. Tom Hood, in a very humorous paper, describes
a most accomplished schoolmistress, a teacher of all the arts and crafts
which are supposed to make up fine gentlewomen, who is stranded in a
rude German inn, with her father writhing in the anguish of a severe
attack of gastric inflammation. The helpless lady gazes on her suffering
parent, longing to help him, and thinking over all her various little
store of accomplishments, not one of which bear the remotest relation to
the case. She could knit him a bead-purse, or make him a guard-chain, or
work him a footstool, or festoon him with cut tissue-paper, or sketch
his likeness, or crust him over with alum crystals, or stick him over
with little rosettes of red and white wafers; but none of these being
applicable to his present case, she sits gazing in resigned imbecility,
till finally she desperately resolves to improvise him some gruel, and,
after a laborious turn in the kitchen,--after burning her dress and
blacking her fingers,--succeeds only in bringing him a bowl of _paste_!

"Not unlike this might be the feeling of many an elegant and
accomplished woman, whose education has taught and practised her in
everything that woman ought to know, except those identical ones which
fit her for the care of a home, for the comfort of a sick-room; and so I
say again, that, whatever a woman may be in the way of beauty and
elegance, she must have the strength and skill of a _practical worker_,
or she is nothing. She is not simply to _be_ the beautiful,--she is to
_make_ the beautiful, and preserve it; and she who makes and she who
keeps the beautiful must be able _to work_, and know how to work.
Whatever offices of life are performed by women of culture and
refinement are thenceforth elevated; they cease to be mere servile
toils, and become expressions of the ideas of superior beings. If a true
lady makes even a plate of toast, in arranging a _petit souper_ for her
invalid friend, she does it as a lady should. She does not cut
blundering and uneven slices; she does not burn the edges; she does not
deluge it with bad butter, and serve it cold; but she arranges and
serves all with an artistic care, with a nicety and delicacy, which make
it worth one's while to have a lady friend in sickness.

"And I am glad to hear that Monsieur Blot is teaching classes of New
York ladies that cooking is not a vulgar kitchen toil, to be left to
blundering servants, but an elegant feminine accomplishment, better
worth a woman's learning than crochet or embroidery; and that a
well-kept culinary apartment may be so inviting and orderly that no lady
need feel her ladyhood compromised by participating in its pleasant
toils. I am glad to know that his cooking academy is thronged with more
scholars than he can accommodate, and from ladies in the best classes
of society.

"Moreover, I am glad to see that in New Bedford, recently, a public
course of instruction in the art of bread-making has been commenced by a
lady, and that classes of the most respectable young and married ladies
in the place are attending them.

"These are steps in the right direction, and show that our fair
countrywomen, with the grand good-sense which is their leading
characteristic, are resolved to supply whatever in our national life is
wanting.

"I do not fear that women of such sense and energy will listen to the
sophistries which would persuade them that elegant imbecility and
inefficiency are charms of cultivated womanhood or ingredients in the
poetry of life. She alone can keep the poetry and beauty of married life
who has this poetry in her soul; who with energy and discretion can
throw back and out of sight the sordid and disagreeable details which
beset all human living, and can keep in the foreground that which is
agreeable; who has enough knowledge of practical household matters to
make unskilled and rude hands minister to her cultivated and refined
tastes, and constitute her skilled brain the guide of unskilled hands.
From such a home, with such a mistress, no sirens will seduce a man,
even though the hair grow gray, and the merely physical charms of early
days gradually pass away. The enchantment that was about her person
alone in the days of courtship seems in the course of years to have
interfused and penetrated the _home_ which she has created, and which in
every detail is only an expression of her personality. Her thoughts, her
plans, her provident care, are everywhere; and the _home_ attracts and
holds by a thousand ties the heart which before marriage was held by the
woman alone."



V.

THE TRANSITION.


"The fact is, my dear," said my wife, "that you have thrown a stone into
a congregation of blackbirds, in writing as you have of our family wars
and wants. The response comes from all parts of the country, and the
task of looking over and answering your letters becomes increasingly
formidable. Everybody has something to say,--something to propose."

"Give me a _résumé_," said I.

"Well," said my wife, "here are three pages from an elderly gentleman,
to the effect that women are not what they used to be,--that daughters
are a great care and no help,--that girls have no health and no energy
in practical life,--that the expense of maintaining a household is so
great that young men are afraid to marry,--and that it costs more now
per annum to dress one young woman than it used to cost to carry a whole
family of sons through college. In short, the poor old gentleman is in a
desperate state of mind, and is firmly of opinion that society is going
to ruin by an express train."

"Poor old fellow!" said I, "the only comfort I can offer him is what I
take myself,--that this sad world will last out our time at least. Now
for the next."

"The next is more concise and spicy," said my wife. "I will read it.


     "'_Christopher Crowfield, Esq._,

     "'SIR,--If you want to know how American women are to be brought
     back to family work, I can tell you a short method. Pay them as
     good wages for it as they can make in any other way. I get from
     seven to nine dollars a week in the shop where I work; if I could
     make the same in any good family, I should have no objection to
     doing it.

     "'Your obedient servant,

     "'LETITIA.'"


"My correspondent Letitia does not tell me," said I, "how much of this
seven or nine dollars she pays out for board and washing, fire and
lights. If she worked in a good family at two or three dollars a week,
it is easily demonstrable, that, at the present cost of these items, she
would make as much clear profit as she now does at nine dollars for her
shop-work.

"And there are two other things, moreover, which she does not consider:
First, that, besides board, washing, fuel, and lights, which she would
have in a family, she would have also less unintermitted toil. Shop-work
exacts its ten hours per diem; and it makes no allowance for sickness or
accident.

"A good domestic in a good family finds many hours when she can feel
free to attend to her own affairs. Her work consists of certain definite
matters, which being done her time is her own; and if she have skill and
address in the management of her duties, she may secure many leisure
hours. As houses are now built, and with the many labor-saving
conveniences that are being introduced, the physical labor of housework
is no more than a healthy woman really needs to keep her in health. In
case, however, of those slight illnesses to which all are more or less
liable, and which, if neglected, often lead to graver ones, the
advantage is still on the side of domestic service. In the shop and
factory, every hour of unemployed time is deducted; an illness of a day
or two is an appreciable loss of just so much money, while the expense
of board is still going on. But in the family a good servant is always
considered. When ill, she is carefully nursed as one of the family, has
the family physician, and is subject to no deduction from her wages for
loss of time. I have known more than one instance in which a valued
domestic has been sent, at her employer's expense, to the seaside or
some other pleasant locality, for change of air, when her health has
been run down.

"In the second place, family work is more remunerative, even at a lower
rate of wages, than shop or factory work, because it is better for the
health. All sorts of sedentary employment, pursued by numbers of persons
together in one apartment, are more or less debilitating and unhealthy,
through foul air and confinement.

"A woman's health is her capital. In certain ways of work she obtains
more income, but she spends on her capital to do it. In another way she
may get less income, and yet increase her capital. A woman cannot work
at dress-making, tailoring, or any other sedentary employment, ten hours
a day, year in and out, without enfeebling her constitution, impairing
her eyesight, and bringing on a complication of complaints, but she can
sweep, wash, cook, and do the varied duties of a well-ordered house with
modern arrangements, and grow healthier every year. The times, in New
England, when all women did housework a part of every day, were the
times when all women were healthy. At present, the heritage of vigorous
muscles, firm nerves, strong backs, and cheerful physical life has gone
from American women, and is taken up by Irish women. A thrifty young
man, I have lately heard of, married a rosy young Irish girl, quite to
the horror of his mother and sisters, but defended himself by the
following very conclusive logic: 'If I marry an American girl, I must
have an Irish girl to take care of her; and I cannot afford to support
both.'

"Besides all this, there is a third consideration, which I humbly
commend to my friend Letitia. The turn of her note speaks her a girl of
good common sense, with a faculty of hitting the nail square on the
head; and such a girl must see that nothing is more likely to fall out
than that she will some day be married. Evidently, our fair friend is
born to rule; and at this hour, doubtless, her foreordained throne and
humble servant are somewhere awaiting her.

"Now domestic service is all the while fitting a girl physically,
mentally, and morally for her ultimate vocation and sphere,--to be a
happy wife and to make a happy home. But factory work, shop work, and
all employments of that sort, are in their nature essentially
_undomestic_,--entailing the constant necessity of a boarding-house
life, and of habits as different as possible from the quiet routine of
home. The girl who is ten hours on the strain of continued,
unintermitted toil feels no inclination, when evening comes, to sit down
and darn her stockings, or make over her dresses, or study any of those
multifarious economies which turn a wardrobe to the best account. Her
nervous system is flagging; she craves company and excitement; and her
dull, narrow room is deserted for some place of amusement or gay street
promenade. And who can blame her? Let any sensible woman, who has had
experience of shop and factory life, recall to her mind the ways and
manners in which young girls grow up who leave a father's roof for a
crowded boarding-house, without any supervision of matron or mother, and
ask whether this is the best school for training young American wives
and mothers.

"Doubtless there are discreet and thoughtful women who, amid all these
difficulties, do keep up thrifty, womanly habits, but they do it by an
effort greater than the majority of girls are willing to make, and
greater than they ought to make. To sew or read or study after ten hours
of factory or shop work is a further drain on the nervous powers, which
no woman can long endure without exhaustion.

"When the time arrives that such a girl comes to a house of her own, she
comes to it as unskilled in all household lore, with muscles as
incapable of domestic labor, and nerves as sensitive, as if she had been
leading the most luxurious, do-nothing, fashionable life. How different
would be her preparation, had the forming years of her life been spent
in the labors of a family! I know at this moment a lady at the head of a
rich country establishment, filling her station in society with dignity
and honor, who gained her domestic education in a kitchen in our
vicinity. She was the daughter of a small farmer, and when the time came
for her to be earning her living, her parents wisely thought it far
better that she should gain it in a way which would at the same time
establish her health and fit her for her own future home. In a cheerful,
light, airy kitchen, which was kept so tidy always as to be an
attractive sitting-room, she and another young country-girl were trained
up in the best of domestic economies by a mistress who looked well to
the ways of her household, till at length they married from the house
with honor, and went to practise in homes of their own the lessons they
had learned in the home of another. Formerly, in New England, such
instances were not uncommon;--would that they might become so again!"

"The fact is," said my wife, "the places which the daughters of American
farmers used to occupy in our families are now taken by young girls from
the families of small farmers in Ireland. They are respectable, tidy,
healthy, and capable of being taught. A good mistress, who is reasonable
and liberal in her treatment, is able to make them fixtures. They get
good wages, and have few expenses. They dress handsomely, have abundant
leisure to take care of their clothes and turn their wardrobes to the
best account, and they very soon acquire skill in doing it equal to that
displayed by any women of any country. They remit money continually to
relatives in Ireland, and from time to time pay the passage of one and
another to this country,--and whole families have thus been established
in American life by the efforts of one young girl. Now, for my part, I
do not grudge my Irish fellow-citizens these advantages obtained by
honest labor and good conduct; they deserve all the good fortune thus
accruing to them. But when I see sickly, nervous American women jostling
and struggling in the few crowded avenues which are open to mere brain,
I cannot help thinking how much better their lot would have been, with
good strong bodies, steady nerves, healthy digestion, and the habit of
looking any kind of work in the face, which used to be characteristic of
American women generally, and of Yankee women in particular."

"The matter becomes still graver," said I, "by the laws of descent. The
woman who enfeebles her muscular system by sedentary occupation, and
over-stimulates her brain and nervous system, when she becomes a mother,
perpetuates these evils to her offspring. Her children will be born
feeble and delicate, incapable of sustaining any severe strain of body
or mind. The universal cry now about the ill health of young American
girls is the fruit of some three generations of neglect of physical
exercise and undue stimulus of brain and nerves. Young girls now are
universally _born_ delicate. The most careful hygienic treatment during
childhood, the strictest attention to diet, dress, and exercise,
succeeds merely so far as to produce a girl who is healthy so long only
as she does nothing. With the least strain, her delicate organism gives
out, now here, now there. She cannot study without her eyes fail or she
has headache,--she cannot get up her own muslins, or sweep a room, or
pack a trunk, without bringing on a back-ache,--she goes to a concert or
a lecture, and must lie by all the next day from the exertion. If she
skates, she is sure to strain some muscle; or if she falls and strikes
her knee or hits her ankle, a blow that a healthy girl would forget in
five minutes terminates in some mysterious lameness which confines our
poor sibyl for months.

"The young American girl of our times is a creature who has not a
particle of vitality to spare,--no reserved stock of force to draw upon
in cases of family exigency. She is exquisitely strung, she is
cultivated, she is refined; but she is too nervous, too wiry, too
sensitive,--she burns away too fast; only the easiest of circumstances,
the most watchful of care and nursing, can keep her within the limits of
comfortable health; and yet this is the creature who must undertake
family life in a country where it is next to an absolute impossibility
to have _permanent_ domestics. Frequent change, occasional entire
breakdowns, must be the lot of the majority of
housekeepers,--particularly those who do not live in cities."

"In fact," said my wife, "we in America have so far got out of the way
of a womanhood that has any vigor of outline or opulence of physical
proportions, that, when we see a woman made as a woman ought to be, she
strikes us as a monster. Our willowy girls are afraid of nothing so much
as growing stout; and if a young lady begins to round into proportions
like the women in Titian's and Giorgione's pictures, she is distressed
above measure, and begins to make secret inquiries into reducing diet,
and to cling desperately to the strongest corset-lacing as her only
hope. It would require one to be better educated than most of our girls
are, to be willing to look like the Sistine Madonna or the Venus of
Milo.

"Once in a while our Italian opera-singers bring to our shores those
glorious physiques which formed the inspiration of Italian painters; and
then American editors make coarse jokes about Barnum's fat woman, and
avalanches, and pretend to be struck with terror at such dimensions.

"We should be better instructed, and consider that Italy does us a
favor, in sending us specimens, not only of higher styles of musical
art, but of a warmer, richer, and more abundant womanly life. The
magnificent voice is only in keeping with the magnificent proportions of
the singer. A voice which has no grate, no strain, which flows without
effort,--which does not labor eagerly up to a high note, but alights on
it like a bird from above, there carelessly warbling and trilling,--a
voice which then without effort sinks into broad, rich, sombre depths of
soft, heavy chest-tone,--can come only with a physical nature at once
strong, wide, and fine,--from a nature such as the sun of Italy ripens,
as he does her golden grapes, filling it with the new wine of song."

"Well," said I, "so much for our strictures on Miss Letitia's letter.
What comes next?"

"Here is a correspondent who answers the question, 'What shall we do
with her?'--_apropos_ to the case of the distressed young woman which we
considered in our first chapter."

"And what does he recommend?"

"He tells us that _he_ should advise us to make our distressed woman
Marianne's housekeeper, and to send South for three or four contrabands
for her to train, and, with great apparent complacency, seems to think
that course will solve all similar cases of difficulty."

"That's quite a man's view of the subject," said Jennie. "They think
any woman who isn't particularly fitted to do anything else can keep
house."

"As if housekeeping were not the very highest craft and mystery of
social life," said I. "I admit that our sex speak too unadvisedly on
such topics, and, being well instructed by my household priestesses,
will humbly suggest the following ideas to my correspondent.

"1st. A woman is not of course fit to be a housekeeper because she is a
woman of good education and refinement.

"2d. If she were, a family with young children in it is not the proper
place to establish a school for untaught contrabands, however desirable
their training may be.

"A woman of good education and good common sense may _learn_ to be a
good housekeeper, as she learns any trade, by going into a good family
and practising first one and then another branch of the business, till
finally she shall acquire the comprehensive knowledge to direct all.

"The next letter I will read.


     "'DEAR MR. CROWFIELD,--Your papers relating to the domestic problem
     have touched upon a difficulty which threatens to become a matter
     of life and death with me.

     "'I am a young man, with good health, good courage, and good
     prospects. I have, for a young man, a fair income, and a prospect
     of its increase. But my business requires me to reside in a country
     town near a great manufacturing city. The demand for labor there
     has made such a drain on the female population of the vicinity,
     that it seems, for a great part of the time, impossible to keep any
     servants at all; and what we can hire are of the poorest quality,
     and want exorbitant wages. My wife was a well-trained housekeeper,
     and knows perfectly all that pertains to the care of a family; but
     she has three little children, and a delicate babe only a few weeks
     old; and _can_ any one woman do all that is needed for such a
     household? Something must be trusted to servants; and what is thus
     trusted brings such confusion and waste and dirt into our house,
     that the poor woman is constantly distraught between the disgust of
     having them and the utter impossibility of doing without them.

     "'Now it has been suggested that we remedy the trouble by paying
     higher wages; but I find that for the very highest wages I secure
     only the most miserable service; and yet, poor as it is, we are
     obliged to put up with it, because there is an amount of work to be
     done in our family that is absolutely beyond my wife's strength.

     "'I see her health wearing away under these trials, her life made
     a burden; I feel no power to help her; and I ask you, Mr.
     Crowfield, What are we to do? What is to become of family life in
     this country?

     "'Yours truly,

     "'A YOUNG FAMILY MAN.'


"My friend's letter," said I, "touches upon the very hinge of the
difficulty of domestic life with the present generation.

"The real, vital difficulty, after all, in our American life is, that
our country is so wide, so various, so abounding in the richest fields
of enterprise, that in every direction the cry is of the plenteousness
of the harvest and the fewness of the laborers. In short, there really
are not laborers enough to do the work of the country.

"Since the war has thrown the whole South open to the competition of
free labor, the demand for workers is doubled and trebled. Manufactories
of all sorts are enlarging their borders, increasing their machinery,
and calling for more hands. Every article of living is demanded with an
imperativeness and over an extent of territory which set at once
additional thousands to the task of production. Instead of being easier
to find hands to execute in all branches of useful labor, it is likely
to grow every year more difficult, as new departments of manufacture
and trade divide the workers. The price of labor, even now higher in
this country than in any other, will rise still higher, and thus
complicate still more the problem of domestic life. Even if a reasonable
quota of intelligent women choose domestic service, the demand will be
increasingly beyond the supply."

"And what have you to say to this," said my wife, "seeing you cannot
stop the prosperity of the country?"

"Simply this,--that communities will be driven to organize, as they now
do in Europe, to lessen the labors of individual families by having some
of the present domestic tasks done out of the house.

"In France, for example, no housekeeper counts either washing, ironing,
or bread-making as part of her domestic cares. All the family washing
goes out to a laundry; and being attended to by those who make that
department of labor a specialty, it comes home in refreshingly beautiful
order.

"We in America, though we pride ourselves on our Yankee thrift, are far
behind the French in domestic economy. If all the families of a
neighborhood should put together the sums they separately spend in
buying or fitting up and keeping in repair tubs, boilers, and other
accommodations for washing, all that is consumed or wasted in soap,
starch, bluing, fuel, together with the wages and board of an extra
servant, the aggregate would suffice to fit up a neighborhood laundry,
where one or two capable women could do easily and well what ten or
fifteen women now do painfully and ill, and to the confusion and
derangement of all other family processes.

"The model laundries for the poor in London had facilities which would
enable a woman to do both the washing and ironing of a small family in
from two to three hours, and were so arranged that a very few women
could with ease do the work of the neighborhood.

"But in the absence of an establishment of this sort, the housekeepers
of a country village might help themselves very much by owning a mangle
in common, to which all the heavier parts of the ironing could be sent.
American ingenuity has greatly improved the machinery of the mangle. It
is no longer the heavy, cumbersome structure that it used to be in the
Old World, but a compact, neat piece of apparatus, made in three or four
different sizes to suit different-sized apartments.

"Mr. H. F. Bond of Waltham, Massachusetts, now manufactures these
articles, and sends them to all parts of the country. The smallest of
them does not take up much more room than a sewing-machine, can be
turned by a boy of ten or twelve, and thus in the course of an hour or
two the heaviest and most fatiguing part of a family ironing may be
accomplished.

"I should certainly advise the 'Young Family Man' with a delicate wife
and uncertain domestic help to fortify his kitchen with one of these
fixtures.

"But after all, I still say that the quarter to which I look for the
solution of the American problem of domestic life is a wise use of the
principle of association.

"The future model village of New England, as I see it, shall have for
the use of its inhabitants not merely a town lyceum-hall and a town
library, but a town laundry, fitted up with conveniences such as no
private house can afford, and paying a price to the operators which will
enable them to command an excellence of work such as private families
seldom realize. It will also have a town bakery, where the best of
family bread, white, brown, and of all grains, shall be compounded; and
lastly a town cook-shop, where soup and meats may be bought, ready for
the table. Those of us who have kept house abroad remember the ease with
which our foreign establishments were carried on. A suite of elegant
apartments, a courier, and one female servant, were the foundation of
domestic life. Our courier boarded us at a moderate expense, and the
servant took care of our rooms. Punctually to the dinner-hour every day,
our dinner came in on the head of a porter from a neighboring
cook-shop. A large chest lined with tin, and kept warm by a tiny
charcoal stove in the centre, being deposited in an ante-room, from it
came forth, first, soup, then fish, then roast of various names, and
lastly pastry and confections,--far more courses than any reasonable
Christian needs to keep him in healthy condition; and dinner being over,
our box with its _débris_ went out of the house, leaving a clear field.

"Now I put it to the distressed 'Young Family Man' whether these three
institutions of a bakery, a cook-shop, and a laundry, in the village
where he lives, would not virtually annihilate his household cares, and
restore peace and comfort to his now distracted family.

"There really is no more reason why every family should make its own
bread than its own butter,--why every family should do its own washing
and ironing than its own tailoring or mantua-making. In France, where
certainly the arts of economy are well studied, there is some specialty
for many domestic needs for which we keep servants. The beautiful inlaid
floors are kept waxed and glossy by a professional gentleman who wears a
brush on his foot-sole, skates gracefully over the surface, and, leaving
all right, departeth. Many families, each paying a small sum, keep this
servant in common.

"Now if ever there was a community which needed to study the art of
living, it is our American one; for at present, domestic life is so
wearing and so oppressive as seriously to affect health and happiness.
Whatever has been done abroad in the way of comfort and convenience can
be done here; and the first neighborhood that shall set the example of
dividing the tasks and burdens of life by the judicious use of the
principle of _association_ will initiate a most important step in the
way of national happiness and prosperity.

"My solution, then, of the domestic problem may be formulized as
follows:--

"1st. That women make self-helpfulness and family helpfulness
fashionable, and every woman use her muscles daily in enough household
work to give her a good digestion.

"2d. That the situation of a domestic be made so respectable and
respected that well-educated American women shall be induced to take it
as a training-school for their future family life.

"3d. That families by association lighten the multifarious labors of the
domestic sphere.

"All of which I humbly submit to the good sense and enterprise of
American readers and workers."



VI.

BODILY RELIGION: A SERMON ON GOOD HEALTH.


One of our recent writers has said, that "good health is physical
religion"; and it is a saying worthy to be printed in golden letters.
But good health being physical religion, it fully shares that
indifference with which the human race regards things confessedly the
most important. The neglect of the soul is the trite theme of all
religious teachers; and, next to their souls, there is nothing that
people neglect so much as their bodies. Every person ought to be
perfectly healthy, just as everybody ought to be perfectly religious;
but, in point of fact, the greater part of mankind are so far from
perfect moral or physical religion that they cannot even form a
conception of the blessing beyond them.

The mass of good, well-meaning Christians are not yet advanced enough to
guess at the change which a perfect fidelity to Christ's spirit and
precepts would produce in them. And the majority of people who call
themselves well, because they are not, at present, upon any particular
doctor's list, are not within sight of what perfect health would be.
That fulness of life, that vigorous tone, and that elastic cheerfulness,
which make the mere fact of existence a luxury, that suppleness which
carries one like a well-built boat over every wave of unfavorable
chance,--these are attributes of the perfect health seldom enjoyed. We
see them in young children, in animals, and now and then, but rarely, in
some adult human being, who has preserved intact the religion of the
body through all opposing influences. Perfect health supposes not a
state of mere quiescence, but of positive enjoyment in living. See that
little fellow, as his nurse turns him out in the morning, fresh from his
bath, his hair newly curled, and his cheeks polished like apples. Every
step is a spring or a dance; he runs, he laughs, he shouts, his face
breaks into a thousand dimpling smiles at a word. His breakfast of plain
bread and milk is swallowed with an eager and incredible delight,--it is
_so good_ that he stops to laugh or thump the table now and then in
expression of his ecstasy. All day long he runs and frisks and plays;
and when at night the little head seeks the pillow, down go the
eye-curtains, and sleep comes without a dream. In the morning his first
note is a laugh and a crow, as he sits up in his crib and tries to pull
papa's eyes open with his fat fingers. He is an embodied joy,--he is
sunshine and music and laughter for all the house. With what a
magnificent generosity does the Author of life endow a little mortal
pilgrim in giving him at the outset of his career such a body as this!
How miserable it is to look forward twenty years, when the same child,
now grown a man, wakes in the morning with a dull, heavy head, the
consequence of smoking and studying till twelve or one the night before;
when he rises languidly to a late breakfast, and turns from this, and
tries that,--wants a devilled bone, or a cutlet with Worcestershire
sauce, to make eating possible; and then, with slow and plodding step,
finds his way to his office and his books. Verily the shades of the
prison-house gather round the growing boy; for, surely, no one will deny
that life often begins with health little less perfect than that of the
angels.

But the man who habitually wakes sodden, headachy, and a little stupid,
and who needs a cup of strong coffee and various stimulating condiments
to coax his bodily system into something like fair working order, does
not suppose he is out of health. He says, "Very well, I thank you," to
your inquiries,--merely because he has entirely forgotten what good
health is. He is well, not because of any particular pleasure in
physical existence, but well simply because he is not a subject for
prescriptions. Yet there is no store of vitality, no buoyancy, no
superabundant vigor, to resist the strain and pressure to which life
puts him. A checked perspiration, a draught of air ill-timed, a crisis
of perplexing business or care, and he is down with a bilious attack, or
an influenza, and subject to doctors' orders for an indefinite period.
And if the case be so with men, how is it with women? How many women
have at maturity the keen appetite, the joyous love of life and motion,
the elasticity and sense of physical delight in existence, that little
children have? How many have any superabundance of vitality with which
to meet the wear and strain of life? And yet they call themselves well.

But is it possible, in maturity, to have the joyful fulness of the life
of childhood? Experience has shown that the delicious freshness of this
dawning hour may be preserved even to mid-day, and may be brought back
and restored after it has been for years a stranger. Nature, though a
severe disciplinarian, is still, in many respects, most patient and easy
to be entreated, and meets any repentant movement of her prodigal
children with wonderful condescension. Take Bulwer's account of the
first few weeks of his sojourn at Malvern, and you will read, in very
elegant English, the story of an experience of pleasure which has
surprised and delighted many a patient at a water-cure. The return to
the great primitive elements of health--water, air, and simple food,
with a regular system of exercise--has brought to many a jaded, weary,
worn-down human being the elastic spirits, the simple, eager appetite,
the sound sleep, of a little child. Hence, the rude huts and châlets of
the peasant Priessnitz were crowded with battered dukes and princesses,
and notables of every degree, who came from the hot, enervating luxury
which had drained them of existence to find a keener pleasure in
peasants' bread under peasants' roofs than in soft raiment and palaces.
No arts of French cookery can possibly make anything taste so well to a
feeble and palled appetite as plain brown bread and milk taste to a
hungry water-cure patient, fresh from bath and exercise.

If the water-cure had done nothing more than establish the fact that the
glow and joyousness of early life are things which may be restored after
having been once wasted, it would have done a good work. For if Nature
is so forgiving to those who have once lost or have squandered her
treasures, what may not be hoped for us if we can learn the art of never
losing the first health of childhood? And though with us, who have
passed to maturity, it may be too late for the blessing, cannot
something be done for the children who are yet to come after us?

Why is the first health of childhood lost? Is it not the answer, that
childhood is the only period of life in which bodily health is made a
prominent object? Take our pretty boy, with cheeks like apples, who
started in life with a hop, skip, and dance,--to whom laughter was like
breathing, and who was enraptured with plain bread and milk,--how did he
grow into the man who wakes so languid and dull, who wants strong coffee
and Worcestershire sauce to make his breakfast go down? When and where
did he drop the invaluable talisman that once made everything look
brighter and taste better to him, however rude and simple, than now do
the most elaborate combinations? What is the boy's history? Why, for the
first seven years of his life his body is made of some account. It is
watched, cared for, dieted, disciplined, fed with fresh air, and left to
grow and develop like a thrifty plant. But from the time school
education begins, the body is steadily ignored, and left to take care of
itself.

The boy is made to sit six hours a day in a close, hot room, breathing
impure air, putting the brain and the nervous system upon a constant
strain, while the muscular system is repressed to an unnatural quiet.
During the six hours, perhaps twenty minutes are allowed for all that
play of the muscles which, up to this time, has been the constant habit
of his life. After this he is sent home with books, slate, and lessons
to occupy an hour or two more in preparing for the next day. In the
whole of this time there is no kind of effort to train the physical
system by appropriate exercise. Something of the sort was attempted
years ago in the infant schools, but soon given up; and now, from the
time study first begins, the muscles are ignored in all primary schools.
One of the first results is the loss of that animal vigor which formerly
made the boy love motion for its own sake. Even in his leisure hours he
no longer leaps and runs as he used to; he learns to sit still, and by
and by sitting and lounging come to be the habit, and vigorous motion
the exception, for most of the hours of the day. The education thus
begun goes on from primary to high school, from high school to college,
from college through professional studies of law, medicine, or theology,
with this steady contempt for the body, with no provision for its
culture, training, or development, but rather a direct and evident
provision for its deterioration and decay.

The want of suitable ventilation in school-rooms, recitation-rooms,
lecture-rooms, offices, court-rooms, conference-rooms, and vestries,
where young students of law, medicine, and theology acquire their
earlier practice, is something simply appalling. Of itself it would
answer for men the question, why so many thousand glad, active children
come to a middle life without joy,--a life whose best estate is a sort
of slow, plodding endurance. The despite and hatred which most men seem
to feel for God's gift of fresh air, and their resolution to breathe as
little of it as possible, could only come from a long course of
education, in which they have been accustomed to live without it. Let
any one notice the conduct of our American people travelling in railroad
cars. We will suppose that about half of them are what might be called
well-educated people, who have learned in books, or otherwise, that the
air breathed from the lungs is laden with impurities,--that it is
noxious and poisonous; and yet, travel with these people half a day, and
you would suppose from their actions that they considered the external
air as a poison created expressly to injure them, and that the only
course of safety lay in keeping the cars hermetically sealed, and
breathing over and over the vapor from each others' lungs. If a person
in despair at the intolerable foulness raises a window, what frowns from
all the neighboring seats, especially from great rough-coated men, who
always seem the first to be apprehensive! The request to "put down that
window" is almost sure to follow a moment or two of fresh air. In vain
have rows of ventilators been put in the tops of some of the cars, for
conductors and passengers are both of one mind, that these ventilators
are inlets of danger, and must be kept carefully closed.

Railroad travelling in America is systematically, and one would think
carefully, arranged so as to violate every possible law of health. The
old rule to keep the head cool and the feet warm is precisely reversed.
A red-hot stove heats the upper stratum of air to oppression, while a
stream of cold air is constantly circulating about the lower
extremities. The most indigestible and unhealthy substances conceivable
are generally sold in the cars or at way-stations for the confusion and
distress of the stomach. Rarely can a traveller obtain so innocent a
thing as a plain good sandwich of bread and meat, while pie, cake,
doughnuts, and all other culinary atrocities, are almost forced upon him
at every stopping-place. In France, England, and Germany the railroad
cars are perfectly ventilated; the feet are kept warm by flat cases
filled with hot water and covered with carpet, and answering the double
purpose of warming the feet and diffusing an agreeable temperature
through the car, without burning away the vitality of the air; while the
arrangements at the refreshment-rooms provide for the passenger as
wholesome and well-served a meal of healthy, nutritious food as could be
obtained in any home circle.

What are we to infer concerning the home habits of a nation of men who
so resignedly allow their bodies to be poisoned and maltreated in
travelling over such an extent of territory as is covered by our
railroad lines? Does it not show that foul air and improper food are too
much matters of course to excite attention? As a writer in "The Nation"
has lately remarked, it is simply and only because the American nation
like to have unventilated cars, and to be fed on pie and coffee at
stopping-places, that nothing better is known to our travellers; if
there were any marked dislike of such a state of things on the part of
the people, it would not exist. We have wealth enough, and enterprise
enough, and ingenuity enough, in our American nation, to compass with
wonderful rapidity any end that really seems to us desirable. An army
was improvised when an army was wanted,--and an army more perfectly
equipped, more bountifully fed, than so great a body of men ever was
before. Hospitals, Sanitary Commissions, and Christian Commissions all
arose out of the simple conviction of the American people that they must
arise. If the American people were equally convinced that foul air was a
poison,--that to have cold feet and hot heads was to invite an attack of
illness,--that maple-sugar, pop-corn, peppermint candy, pie, doughnuts,
and peanuts are not diet for reasonable beings,--they would have
railroad accommodations very different from those now in existence.

We have spoken of the foul air of court-rooms. What better illustration
could be given of the utter contempt with which the laws of bodily
health are treated, than the condition of these places? Our lawyers are
our highly educated men. They have been through high-school and college
training, they have learned the properties of oxygen, nitrogen, and
carbonic-acid gas, and have seen a mouse die under an exhausted
receiver, and of course they know that foul, unventilated rooms are bad
for the health; and yet generation after generation of men so taught and
trained will spend the greater part of their lives in rooms notorious
for their close and impure air, without so much as an attempt to remedy
the evil. A well-ventilated court-room is a four-leaved clover among
court-rooms. Young men are constantly losing their health at the bar;
lung diseases, dyspepsia, follow them up, gradually sapping their
vitality. Some of the brightest ornaments of the profession have
actually fallen dead as they stood pleading,--victims of the fearful
pressure of poisonous and heated air upon the excited brain. The deaths
of Salmon P. Chase of Portland, uncle of our present Chief Justice, and
of Ezekiel Webster, the brother of our great statesman, are memorable
examples of the calamitous effects of the errors dwelt upon; and yet,
strange to say, nothing efficient is done to mend these errors, and
give the body an equal chance with the mind in the pressure of the
world's affairs.

But churches, lecture-rooms, and vestries, and all buildings devoted
especially to the good of the soul, are equally witness of the mind's
disdain of the body's needs, and the body's consequent revenge upon the
soul. In how many of these places has the question of a thorough
provision of fresh air been even considered? People would never think of
bringing a thousand persons into a desert place, and keeping them there,
without making preparations to feed them. Bread and butter, potatoes and
meat, must plainly be found for them; but a thousand human beings are
put into a building to remain a given number of hours, and no one asks
the question whether means exist for giving each one the quantum of
fresh air needed for his circulation, and these thousand victims will
consent to be slowly poisoned, gasping, sweating, getting red in the
face, with confused and sleepy brains, while a minister with a yet
redder face and a more oppressed brain struggles and wrestles, through
the hot, seething vapors, to make clear to them the mysteries of faith.
How many churches are there that for six or eight months in the year are
never ventilated at all, except by the accidental opening of doors? The
foul air generated by one congregation is locked up by the sexton for
the use of the next assembly; and so gathers and gathers from week to
week, and month to month, while devout persons upbraid themselves, and
are ready to tear their hair, because they always feel stupid and sleepy
in church. The proper ventilation of their churches and vestries would
remove that spiritual deadness of which their prayers and hymns
complain. A man hoeing his corn out on a breezy hillside is bright and
alert, his mind works clearly, and he feels interested in religion, and
thinks of many a thing that might be said at the prayer-meeting at
night. But at night, when he sits down in a little room where the air
reeks with the vapor of his neighbor's breath and the smoke of kerosene
lamps, he finds himself suddenly dull and drowsy,--without emotion,
without thought, without feeling,--and he rises and reproaches himself
for this state of things. He calls upon his soul and all that is within
him to bless the Lord; but the indignant body, abused, insulted,
ignored, takes the soul by the throat, and says, "If you won't let _me_
have a good time, neither shall you." Revivals of religion, with
ministers and with those people whose moral organization leads them to
take most interest in them, often end in periods of bodily ill-health
and depression. But is there any need of this? Suppose that a revival of
religion required, as a formula, that all the members of a given
congregation should daily take a minute dose of arsenic in concert,--we
should not be surprised after a while to hear of various ill effects
therefrom; and, as vestries and lecture-rooms are now arranged, a daily
prayer-meeting is often nothing more nor less than a number of persons
spending half an hour a day breathing poison from each other's lungs.
There is not only no need of this, but, on the contrary, a good supply
of pure air would make the daily prayer-meeting far more enjoyable. The
body, if allowed the slightest degree of fair play, so far from being a
contumacious infidel and opposer, becomes a very fair Christian helper,
and, instead of throttling the soul, gives it wings to rise to celestial
regions.

This branch of our subject we will quit with one significant anecdote. A
certain rural church was somewhat famous for its picturesque Gothic
architecture, and equally famous for its sleepy atmosphere, the rules of
Gothic symmetry requiring very small windows, which could be only
partially opened. Everybody was affected alike in this church; minister
and people complained that it was like the enchanted ground in the
Pilgrim's Progress. Do what they would, sleep was ever at their elbows;
the blue, red, and green of the painted windows melted into a rainbow
dimness of hazy confusion; and ere they were aware, they were off on a
cloud to the land of dreams.

An energetic sister in the church suggested the inquiry, whether it was
ever ventilated, and discovered that it was regularly locked up at the
close of service, and remained so till opened for the next week. She
suggested the inquiry, whether giving the church a thorough airing on
Saturday would not improve the Sunday services; but nobody acted on her
suggestion. Finally, she borrowed the sexton's key one Saturday night,
and went into the church and opened all the windows herself, and let
them remain so for the night. The next day everybody remarked the
improved comfort of the church, and wondered what had produced the
change. Nevertheless, when it was discovered, it was not deemed a matter
of enough importance to call for an order on the sexton to perpetuate
the improvement.

The ventilation of private dwellings in this country is such as might be
expected from that entire indifference to the laws of health manifested
in public establishments. Let a person travel in private conveyance up
through the valley of the Connecticut, and stop for a night at the
taverns which he will usually find at the end of each day's stage. The
bed-chamber into which he will be ushered will be the concentration of
all forms of bad air. The house is redolent of the vegetables in the
cellar,--cabbages, turnips, and potatoes; and this fragrance is confined
and retained by the custom of closing the window-blinds and dropping
the inside curtains, so that neither air nor sunshine enters in to
purify. Add to this the strong odor of a new feather-bed and pillows,
and you have a combination of perfumes most appalling to a delicate
sense. Yet travellers take possession of these rooms, sleep in them all
night without raising the window or opening the blinds, and leave them
to be shut up for other travellers.

The spare chamber of many dwellings seems to be an hermetically closed
box, opened only twice a year, for spring and fall cleaning; but for the
rest of the time closed to the sun and the air of heaven. Thrifty
country housekeepers often adopt the custom of making their beds on the
instant after they are left, without airing the sheets and mattresses;
and a bed so made gradually becomes permeated with the insensible
emanations of the human body, so as to be a steady corrupter of the
atmosphere.

In the winter, the windows are calked and listed, the throat of the
chimney built up with a tight brick wall, and a close stove is
introduced to help burn out the vitality of the air. In a sitting-room
like this, from five to ten persons will spend about eight months of the
year, with no other ventilation than that gained by the casual opening
and shutting of doors. Is it any wonder that consumption every year
sweeps away its thousands?--that people are suffering constant chronic
ailments,--neuralgia, nervous dyspepsia, and all the host of indefinite
bad feelings that rob life of sweetness and flower and bloom?

A recent writer raises the inquiry, whether the community would not gain
in health by the demolition of all dwelling-houses. That is, he suggests
the question, whether the evils from foul air are not so great and so
constant, that they countervail the advantages of shelter. Consumptive
patients far gone have been known to be cured by long journeys, which
have required them to be day and night in the open air. Sleep under the
open heaven, even though the person be exposed to the various accidents
of weather, has often proved a miraculous restorer after everything else
had failed. But surely, if simple fresh air is so healing and preserving
a thing, some means might be found to keep the air in a house just as
pure and vigorous as it is outside.

An article in the May number of "Harpers' Magazine" presents drawings of
a very simple arrangement by which any house can be made thoroughly
self-ventilating. Ventilation, as this article shows, consists in two
things,--a perfect and certain expulsion from the dwelling of all foul
air breathed from the lungs or arising from any other cause, and the
constant supply of pure air.

One source of foul air cannot be too much guarded against,--we mean
imperfect gas-pipes. A want of thoroughness in execution is the sin of
our American artisans, and very few gas-fixtures are so thoroughly made
that more or less gas does not escape and mingle with the air of the
dwelling. There are parlors where plants cannot be made to live, because
the gas kills them; and yet their occupants do not seem to reflect that
an air in which a plant cannot live must be dangerous for a human being.
The very clemency and long-suffering of Nature to those who persistently
violate her laws is one great cause why men are, physically speaking,
such sinners as they are. If foul air poisoned at once and completely,
we should have well-ventilated houses, whatever else we failed to have.
But because people can go on for weeks, months, and years, breathing
poisons, and slowly and imperceptibly lowering the tone of their vital
powers, and yet be what they call "pretty well, I thank you," sermons on
ventilation and fresh air go by them as an idle song. "I don't see but
we are well enough, and we never took much pains about these things.
There's air enough gets into houses, of course. What with doors opening
and windows occasionally lifted, the air of houses is generally good
enough";--and so the matter is dismissed.

One of Heaven's great hygienic teachers is now abroad in the world,
giving lessons on health to the children of men. The cholera is like the
angel whom God threatened to send as leader to the rebellious
Israelites. "Beware of him, obey his voice, and provoke him not; for he
will not pardon your transgressions." The advent of this fearful
messenger seems really to be made necessary by the contempt with which
men threat the physical laws of their being. What else could have
purified the dark places of New York? What a wiping-up and reforming and
cleansing is going before him through the country! At last we find that
Nature is in earnest, and that her laws cannot be always ignored with
impunity. Poisoned air is recognized at last as an evil,--even although
the poison cannot be weighed, measured, or tasted; and if all the
precautions that men are now willing to take could be made perpetual,
the alarm would be a blessing to the world.

Like the principles of spiritual religion, the principles of physical
religion are few and easy to be understood. An old medical apothegm
personifies the hygienic forces as the Doctors Air, Diet, Exercise, and
Quiet; and these four will be found, on reflection, to cover the whole
ground of what is required to preserve human health. A human being whose
lungs have always been nourished by pure air, whose stomach has been fed
only by appropriate food, whose muscles have been systematically
trained by appropriate exercises, and whose mind is kept tranquil by
faith in God and a good conscience, has _perfect physical religion_.
There is a line where physical religion must necessarily overlap
spiritual religion and rest upon it. No human being can be assured of
perfect health, through all the strain and wear and tear of such cares
and such perplexities as life brings, without the rest of _faith in
God_. An unsubmissive, unconfiding, unresigned soul will make vain the
best hygienic treatment; and, on the contrary, the most saintly
religious resolution and purpose may be defeated and vitiated by an
habitual ignorance and disregard of the laws of the physical system.

_Perfect_ spiritual religion cannot exist without perfect physical
religion. Every flaw and defect in the bodily system is just so much
taken from the spiritual vitality: we are commanded to glorify God, not
simply in our spirits, but in our _bodies_ and spirits. The only example
of perfect manhood the world ever saw impresses us more than anything
else by an atmosphere of perfect healthiness. There is a calmness, a
steadiness, in the character of Jesus, a naturalness in his evolution of
the sublimest truths under the strain of the most absorbing and intense
excitement, that could come only from the _one_ perfectly trained and
developed body, bearing as a pure and sacred shrine the One Perfect
Spirit. Jesus of Nazareth, journeying on foot from city to city, always
calm yet always fervent, always steady yet glowing with a white heat of
sacred enthusiasm, able to walk and teach all day and afterwards to
continue in prayer all night, with unshaken nerves, sedately patient,
serenely reticent, perfectly self-controlled, walked the earth, the only
man that perfectly glorified God in his body no less than in his spirit.
It is worthy of remark, that in choosing his disciples he chose plain
men from the laboring classes, who had lived the most obediently to the
simple, unperverted laws of nature. He chose men of good and pure
bodies,--simple, natural, childlike, healthy men,--and baptized their
souls with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

The hygienic bearings of the New Testament have never been sufficiently
understood. The basis of them lies in the solemn declaration, that our
bodies are to be temples of the Holy Spirit, and that all abuse of them
is of the nature of sacrilege. Reverence for the physical system, as the
outward shrine and temple of the spiritual, is the peculiarity of the
Christian religion. The doctrine of the resurrection of the body, and
its physical immortality, sets the last crown of honor upon it. That
bodily system which God declared worthy to be gathered back from the
dust of the grave, and re-created, as the soul's immortal companion,
must necessarily be dear and precious in the eyes of its Creator. The
one passage in the New Testament in which it is spoken of disparagingly
is where Paul contrasts it with the brighter glory of what is to come:
"He shall change our _vile_ bodies, that they may be fashioned like his
glorious body." From this passage has come abundance of reviling of the
physical system. Memoirs of good men are full of abuse of it, as the
clog, the load, the burden, the chain. It is spoken of as pollution, as
corruption,--in short, one would think that the Creator had imitated the
cruelty of some Oriental despots who have been known to chain a
festering corpse to a living body. Accordingly, the memoirs of these
pious men are also mournful records of slow suicide, wrought by the
persistent neglect of the most necessary and important laws of the
bodily system; and the body, outraged and down-trodden, has turned
traitor to the soul, and played the adversary with fearful power. Who
can tell the countless temptations to evil which flow in from a
neglected, disordered, deranged nervous system,--temptations to anger,
to irritability, to selfishness, to every kind of sin of appetite and
passion? No wonder that the poor soul longs for the hour of release from
such a companion.

But that human body which God declares expressly was made to be the
temple of the Holy Spirit, which he considers worthy to be perpetuated
by a resurrection and an immortal existence, cannot be intended to be a
clog and a hindrance to spiritual advancement. A perfect body, working
in perfect tune and time, would open glimpses of happiness to the soul
approaching the joys we hope for in heaven. It is only through the
images of things which our _bodily_ senses have taught us, that we can
form any conception of that future bliss; and the more perfect these
senses, the more perfect our conceptions must be.

The conclusion of the whole matter, and the practical application of
this sermon, is:--First, that all men set themselves to form the idea of
what perfect health is, and resolve to realize it for themselves and
their children. Second, that with a view to this they study the religion
of the body, in such simple and popular treatises as those of George
Combe, Dr. Dio Lewis, and others, and with simple and honest hearts
practise what they there learn. Third, that the training of the bodily
system should form a regular part of our common-school education,--every
common school being provided with a well-instructed teacher of
gymnastics; and the growth and development of each pupil's body being as
much noticed and marked as is now the growth of his mind. The same
course should be continued and enlarged in colleges and female
seminaries, which should have professors of hygiene appointed to give
thorough instruction concerning the laws of health.

And when this is all done, we may hope that crooked spines, pimpled
faces, sallow complexions, stooping shoulders, and all other signs
indicating an undeveloped physical vitality, will, in the course of a
few generations, disappear from the earth, and men will have bodies
which will glorify God, their great Architect.

The soul of man has got as far as it can without the body. Religion
herself stops and looks back, waiting for the body to overtake her. The
soul's great enemy and hindrance can be made her best friend and most
powerful help; and it is high time that this era were begun. We old
sinners, who have lived carelessly, and almost spent our day of grace,
may not gain much of its good; but the children,--shall there not be a
more perfect day for them? Shall there not come a day when the little
child, whom Christ set forth to his disciples as the type of the
greatest in the kingdom of heaven, shall be the type no less of our
physical than our spiritual advancement,--when men and women shall
arise, keeping through long and happy lives the simple, unperverted
appetites, the joyous freshness of spirit, the keen delight in mere
existence, the dreamless sleep and happy waking of early childhood?



VII.

HOW SHALL WE ENTERTAIN OUR COMPANY?


"The fact is," said Marianne, "we must have a party. Bob don't like to
hear of it, but it must come. We are in debt to everybody: we have been
invited everywhere, and never had anything like a party since we were
married, and it won't do."

"For my part, I hate parties," said Bob. "They put your house all out of
order, give all the women a sick-headache, and all the men an
indigestion; you never see anybody to any purpose; the girls look
bewitched, and the women answer you at cross-purposes, and call you by
the name of your next-door neighbor, in their agitation of mind. We stay
out beyond our usual bedtime, come home and find some baby crying, or
child who has been sitting up till nobody knows when; and the next
morning, when I must be at my office by eight, and wife must attend to
her children, we are sleepy and headachy. I protest against making
overtures to entrap some hundred of my respectable married friends into
this snare which has so often entangled me. If I had my way, I would
never go to another party; and as to giving one--I suppose, since my
empress has declared her intentions, that I shall be brought into doing
it; but it shall be under protest."

"But, you see, we must keep up society," said Marianne.

"But I insist on it," said Bob, "it isn't keeping up society. What
earthly thing do you learn about people by meeting them in a general
crush, where all are coming, going, laughing, talking, and looking at
each other? No person of common sense ever puts forth any idea he cares
twopence about, under such circumstances; all that is exchanged is a
certain set of commonplaces and platitudes which people keep for
parties, just as they do their kid gloves and finery. Now there are our
neighbors, the Browns. When they drop in of an evening, she knitting,
and he with the last article in the paper, she really comes out with a
great deal of fresh, lively, earnest, original talk. We have a good
time, and I like her so much that it quite verges on loving; but see her
in a party, when she manifests herself over five or six flounces of pink
silk and a perfect egg-froth of tulle, her head adorned with a thicket
of craped hair and roses, and it is plain at first view that _talking_
with her is quite out of the question. What has been done to her head
on the outside has evidently had some effect within, for she is no
longer the Mrs. Brown you knew in her every-day dress, but Mrs. Brown in
a party state of mind, and too distracted to think of anything in
particular. She has a few words that she answers to everything you say,
as, for example, 'O, very!' 'Certainly!' 'How extraordinary!' 'So happy
to,' &c. The fact is, that she has come into a state in which any real
communication with her mind and character must be suspended till the
party is over and she is rested. Now I like society, which is the reason
why I hate parties."

"But you see," said Marianne, "what are we to do? Everybody can't drop
in to spend an evening with you. If it were not for these parties, there
are quantities of your acquaintances whom you would never meet."

"And of what use is it to meet them? Do you really know them any better
for meeting them got up in unusual dresses, and sitting down together
when the only thing exchanged is the remark that it is hot or cold, or
it rains, or it is dry, or any other patent surface-fact that answers
the purpose of making believe you are talking when neither of you is
saying a word?"

"Well, now, for my part," said Marianne, "I confess I _like_ parties:
they amuse me. I come home feeling kinder and better to people, just
for the little I see of them when they are all dressed up and in good
humor with themselves. To be sure we don't say anything very
profound,--I don't think the most of us have anything very profound to
say; but I ask Mrs. Brown where she buys her lace, and she tells me how
she washes it, and somebody else tells me about her baby, and promises
me a new sack-pattern. Then I like to see the pretty, nice young girls
flirting with the nice young men; and I like to be dressed up a little
myself, even if my finery is all old and many times made over. It does
me good to be rubbed up and brightened."

"Like old silver," said Bob.

"Yes, like old silver, precisely; and even if I do come home tired, it
does my mind good to have that change of scene and faces. You men do not
know what it is to be tied to house and nursery all day, and what a
perfect weariness and lassitude it often brings on us women. For my
part, I think parties are a beneficial institution of society, and that
it is worth a good deal of fatigue and trouble to get one up."

"Then there's the expense," said Bob. "What earthly need is there of a
grand regale of oysters, chicken-salad, ice-creams, coffee, and
champagne, between eleven and twelve o'clock at night, when no one of us
would ever think of wanting or taking any such articles upon our
stomachs in our own homes? If we were all of us in the habit of having a
regular repast at that hour, it might be well enough to enjoy one with
our neighbor; but the party fare is generally just so much in addition
to the honest three meals which we have eaten during the day. Now, to
spend from fifty to one, two, or three hundred dollars in giving all our
friends an indigestion from a midnight meal seems to me a very poor
investment. Yet if we once begin to give the party, we must have
everything that is given at the other parties, or wherefore do we live?
And caterers and waiters rack their brains to devise new forms of
expense and extravagance; and when the bill comes in, one is sure to
feel that one is paying a great deal of money for a great deal of
nonsense. It is, in fact, worse than nonsense, because our dear friends
are, in half the cases, not only no better, but a great deal worse, for
what they have eaten."

"But there is this advantage to society," said Rudolph,--"it helps us
young physicians. What would the physicians do if parties were
abolished? Take all the colds that are caught by our fair friends with
low necks and short sleeves, all the troubles from dancing in tight
dresses and inhaling bad air, and all the headaches and indigestions
from the _mélange_ of lobster-salad, two or three kinds of ice-cream,
cake, and coffee on delicate stomachs, and our profession gets a degree
of encouragement that is worthy to be thought of."

"But the question arises," said my wife, "whether there are not ways of
promoting social feeling less expensive, more simple and natural and
rational. I am inclined to think that there are."

"Yes," said Theophilus Thoro; "for large parties are not, as a general
thing, given with any wish or intention of really improving our
acquaintance with our neighbors. In many cases they are openly and
avowedly a general tribute paid at intervals to society, for and in
consideration of which you are to sit with closed blinds and doors and
be let alone for the rest of the year. Mrs. Bogus, for instance, lives
to keep her house in order, her closets locked, her silver counted and
in the safe, and her china-closet in undisturbed order. Her 'best
things' are put away with such admirable precision, in so many wrappings
and foldings, and secured with so many a twist and twine, that to get
them out is one of the seven labors of Hercules, not to be lightly or
unadvisedly taken in hand, but reverently, discreetly, and once for all,
in an annual or biennial party. Then says Mrs. Bogus, 'For Heaven's
sake, let's have every creature we can think of, and have 'em all over
with at once. For pity's sake, let 's have no driblets left that we
shall have to be inviting to dinner or to tea. No matter whether they
can come or not,--only send them the invitation, and our part is done;
and, thank Heaven! we shall be free for a year.'"

"Yes," said my wife; "a great stand-up party bears just the same
relation towards the offer of real hospitality and good-will as Miss
Sally Brass's offer of meat to the little hungry Marchioness, when, with
a bit uplifted on the end of a fork, she addressed her, 'Will you have
this piece of meat? No? Well, then, remember and don't say you haven't
had meat _offered_ to you!' You are invited to a general jam, at the
risk of your life and health; and if you refuse, don't say you haven't
had hospitality offered to you. All our debts are wiped out and our
slate clean; now we will have our own closed doors, no company and no
trouble, and our best china shall repose undisturbed on its shelves.
Mrs. Bogus says she never could exist in the way that Mrs. Easygo does,
with a constant drip of company,--two or three to breakfast one day,
half a dozen to dinner the next, and little evening gatherings once or
twice a week. It must keep her house in confusion all the time; yet, for
real social feeling, real exchange of thought and opinion, there is more
of it in one half-hour at Mrs. Easygo's than in a dozen of Mrs. Bogus's
great parties.

"The fact is, that Mrs. Easygo really does like the society of human
beings. She is genuinely and heartily social; and, in consequence,
though she has very limited means, and no money to spend in giving great
entertainments, her domestic establishment is a sort of social exchange,
where more friendships are formed, more real acquaintance made, and more
agreeable hours spent, than in any other place that can be named. She
never has large parties,--great general pay-days of social debts,--but
small, well-chosen circles of people, selected so thoughtfully, with a
view to the pleasure which congenial persons give each other, as to make
the invitation an act of real personal kindness. She always manages to
have something for the entertainment of her friends, so that they are
not reduced to the simple alternatives of gaping at each other's dresses
and eating lobster-salad and ice-cream. There is either some choice
music, or a reading of fine poetry, or a well-acted charade, or a
portfolio of photographs and pictures, to enliven the hour and start
conversation; and as the people are skilfully chosen with reference to
each other, as there is no hurry or heat or confusion, conversation, in
its best sense, can bubble up, fresh, genuine, clear, and sparkling as a
woodland spring, and one goes away really rested and refreshed. The
slight entertainment provided is just enough to enable you to eat salt
together in Arab fashion,--not enough to form the leading feature of the
evening. A cup of tea and a basket of cake, or a salver of ices,
silently passed at quiet intervals, do not interrupt conversation or
overload the stomach."

"The fact is," said I, "that the art of society among us Anglo-Saxons is
yet in its ruder stages. We are not, as a race, social and confiding,
like the French and Italians and Germans. We have a word for home, and
our home is often a moated grange, an island, a castle with its
drawbridge up, cutting us off from all but our own home-circle. In
France and Germany and Italy there are the boulevards and public
gardens, where people do their family living in common. Mr. A. is
breakfasting under one tree, with wife and children around, and Mr. B.
is breakfasting under another tree, hard by; and messages, nods, and
smiles pass backward and forward. Families see each other daily in these
public resorts, and exchange mutual offices of good-will. Perhaps from
these customs of society come that naïve simplicity and _abandon_ which
one remarks in the Continental, in opposition to the Anglo-Saxon, habits
of conversation. A Frenchman or an Italian will talk to you of his
feelings and plans and prospects with an unreserve that is perfectly
unaccountable to you, who have always felt that such things must be kept
for the very innermost circle of home privacy. But the Frenchman or
Italian has from a child been brought up to pass his family life in
places of public resort, in constant contact and intercommunion with
other families; and the social and conversational instinct has thus been
daily strengthened. Hence the reunions of these people have been
characterized by a sprightliness and vigor and spirit that the
Anglo-Saxon has in vain attempted to seize and reproduce. English and
American _conversazioni_ have very generally proved a failure, from the
rooted, frozen habit of reticence and reserve which grows with our
growth and strengthens with our strength. The fact is, that the
Anglo-Saxon race as a race does not enjoy talking, and, except in rare
instances, does not talk well. A daily convocation of people, without
refreshments or any extraneous object but the simple pleasure of seeing
and talking with each other, is a thing that can scarcely be understood
in English or American society. Social entertainment presupposes in the
Anglo-Saxon mind _something to eat_, and not only something, but a great
deal. Enormous dinners or great suppers constitute the entertainment.
Nobody seems to have formed the idea that the talking--the simple
exchange of the social feelings--_is_, of itself, the entertainment, and
that _being together_ is the pleasure.

"Madame Recamier for years had a circle of friends who met every
afternoon in her _salon_ from four to six o'clock, for the simple and
sole pleasure of talking with each other. The very first wits and men
of letters and statesmen and _savans_ were enrolled in it, and each
brought to the entertainment some choice _morceau_ which he had laid
aside from his own particular field to add to the feast. The daily
intimacy gave each one such perfect insight into all the others' habits
of thought, tastes, and preferences, that the conversation was like the
celebrated music of the _Conservatoire_ in Paris, a concert of perfectly
chorded instruments taught by long habit of harmonious intercourse to
keep exact time and tune together.

"_Real_ conversation presupposes intimate acquaintance. People must see
each other often enough to wear off the rough bark and outside rind of
commonplaces and conventionalities in which their real ideas are
enwrapped, and give forth without reserve their innermost and best
feelings. Now what is called a large party is the first and rudest form
of social intercourse. The most we can say of it is, that it is better
than nothing. Men and women are crowded together like cattle in a pen.
They look at each other, they jostle each other, exchange a few common
bleatings, and eat together; and so the performance terminates. One may
be crushed evening after evening against men or women, and learn very
little about them. You may decide that a lady is good-tempered, when any
amount of trampling on the skirt of her new silk dress brings no cloud
to her brow. But _is_ it good temper, or only wanton carelessness, which
cares nothing for waste? You can see that a man is not a gentleman who
squares his back to ladies at the supper-table, and devours boned turkey
and _paté de fois gras_, while they vainly reach over and around him for
something, and that another is a gentleman so far as to prefer the care
of his weaker neighbors to the immediate indulgence of his own
appetites; but further than this you learn little. Sometimes, it is
true, in some secluded corner, two people of fine nervous system,
undisturbed by the general confusion, may have a sociable half-hour, and
really part feeling that they like each other better, and know more of
each other than before. Yet these general gatherings have, after all,
their value. They are not so good as something better would be, but they
cannot be wholly dispensed with. It is far better that Mrs. Bogus should
give an annual party, when she takes down all her bedsteads and throws
open her whole house, than that she should never see her friends and
neighbors inside her doors at all. She may feel that she has neither the
taste nor the talent for constant small reunions. Such things, she may
feel, require a social tact which she has not. She would be utterly at a
loss how to conduct them. Each one would cost her as much anxiety and
thought as her annual gathering, and prove a failure after all; whereas
the annual demonstration can be put wholly into the hands of the
caterer, who comes in force, with flowers, silver, china, servants, and,
taking the house into his own hands, gives her entertainment for her,
leaving to her no responsibility but the payment of the bills; and if
Mr. Bogus does not quarrel with them, we know no reason why any one else
should; and I think Mrs. Bogus merits well of the republic, for doing
what she can do towards the hospitalities of the season. I'm sure I
never cursed her in my heart, even when her strong coffee has held mine
eyes open till morning, and her superlative lobster-salads have given me
the very darkest views of human life that ever dyspepsia and east wind
could engender. Mrs. Bogus is the Eve who offers the apple; but, after
all, I am the foolish Adam who take and eat what I know is going to hurt
me, and I am too gallant to visit my sins on the head of my too obliging
tempter. In country places in particular, where little is going on and
life is apt to stagnate, a good, large, generous party, which brings the
whole neighborhood into one house to have a jolly time, to eat, drink,
and be merry, is really quite a work of love and mercy. People see one
another in their best clothes, and that is something; the elders
exchange all manner of simple pleasantries and civilities, and talk over
their domestic affairs, while the young people flirt, in that wholesome
manner which is one of the safest of youthful follies. A country party,
in fact, may be set down as a work of benevolence, and the money
expended thereon fairly charged to the account of the great cause of
peace and good-will on earth."

"But don't you think," said my wife, "that, if the charge of providing
the entertainment were less laborious, these gatherings could be more
frequent? You see, if a woman feels that she must have five kinds of
cake, and six kinds of preserves, and even ice-cream and jellies in a
region where no confectioner comes in to abbreviate her labors, she will
sit with closed doors, and do nothing towards the general exchange of
life, because she cannot do as much as Mrs. Smith or Mrs. Parsons. If
the idea of meeting together had some other focal point than eating, I
think there would be more social feeling. It might be a musical reunion,
where the various young people of a circle agreed to furnish each a song
or an instrumental performance. It might be an impromptu charade party,
bringing out something of that taste in arrangement of costume, and
capacity for dramatic effect, of which there is more latent in society
than we think. It might be the reading of articles in prose and poetry
furnished to a common paper or portfolio, which would awaken an
abundance of interest and speculation on the authorship, or it might be
dramatic readings and recitations. Any or all of these pastimes might
make an evening so entertaining that a simple cup of tea and a plate of
cake or biscuit would be all the refreshment needed."

"We may with advantage steal a leaf now and then from some foreign
book," said I. "In France and Italy, families have their peculiar days
set apart for the reception of friends at their own houses. The whole
house is put upon a footing of hospitality and invitation, and the whole
mind is given to receiving the various friends. In the evening the
_salon_ is filled. The guests, coming from week to week, for years,
become in time friends; the resort has the charm of a home circle; there
are certain faces that you are always sure to meet there. A lady once
said to me of a certain gentleman and lady whom she missed from her
circle, 'They have been at our house every Wednesday evening for twenty
years.' It seems to me that this frequency of meeting is the great
secret of agreeable society. One sees, in our American life, abundance
of people who are everything that is charming and cultivated, but one
never sees enough of them. One meets them at some quiet reunion, passes
a delightful hour, thinks how charming they are, and wishes one could
see more of them. But the pleasant meeting is like the encounter of two
ships in mid-ocean away we sail, each on his respective course, to see
each other no more till the pleasant remembrance has died away. Yet were
there some quiet, home-like resort where we might turn in to renew from
time to time the pleasant intercourse, to continue the last
conversation, and to compare anew our readings and our experiences, the
pleasant hour of liking would ripen into a warm friendship.

"But in order that this may be made possible and practicable, the utmost
simplicity of entertainment must prevail. In a French _salon_, all is,
to the last degree, informal. The _bouilloire_, the French tea-kettle,
is often tended by one of the gentlemen, who aids his fair neighbors in
the mysteries of tea-making. One nymph is always to be found at the
table dispensing tea and talk; and a basket of simple biscuit and cakes,
offered by another, is all the further repast. The teacups and
cake-basket are a real addition to the scene, because they cause a
little lively social bustle, a little chatter and motion,--always of
advantage in breaking up stiffness, and giving occasion for those
graceful, airy nothings that answer so good a purpose in facilitating
acquaintance.

"Nothing can be more charming than the description which Edmond About
gives, in his novel of 'Tolla,' of the reception evenings of an old
noble Roman family,--the spirit of repose and quietude through all the
apartments,--the ease of coming and going,--the perfect homelike spirit
in which the guests settle themselves to any employment of the hour that
best suits them,--some to lively chat, some to dreamy, silent lounging,
some to a game, others, in a distant apartment, to music, and others
still to a promenade along the terraces.

"One is often in a state of mind and nerves which indisposes for the
effort of active conversation; one wishes to rest, to observe, to be
amused without an effort; and a mansion which opens wide its hospitable
arms, and offers itself to you as a sort of home, where you may rest,
and do just as the humor suits you, is a perfect godsend at such times.
You are at home there, your ways are understood, you can do as you
please,--come early or late, be brilliant or dull,--you are always
welcome. If you can do nothing for the social whole to-night, it matters
not. There are many more nights to come in the future, and you are
entertained on trust, without a challenge.

"I have one friend,--a man of genius, subject to the ebbs and flows of
animal spirits which attend that organization. Of general society he has
a nervous horror. A regular dinner or evening party is to him a terror,
an impossibility; but there is a quiet parlor where stands a much-worn
old sofa, and it is his delight to enter without knocking, and be found
lying with half-shut eyes on this friendly couch, while the family life
goes on around him without a question. Nobody is to mind him, to tease
him with inquiries or salutations. If he will, he breaks into the stream
of conversation, and sometimes, rousing up from one of these dreamy
trances, finds himself, ere he or they know how, in the mood for free
and friendly talk. People often wonder, 'How do you catch So-and-so? He
is so shy! I have invited and invited, and he never comes.' We never
invite, and he comes. We take no note of his coming or his going; we do
not startle his entrance with acclamation, nor clog his departure with
expostulation; it is fully understood that with us he shall do just as
he chooses; and so he chooses to do much that we like.

"The sum of this whole doctrine of society is, that we are to try the
value of all modes and forms of social entertainment by their effect in
producing real acquaintance and real friendship and good-will. The first
and rudest form of seeking this is by a great promiscuous party, which
simply effects this,--that people at least see each other on the
outside, and eat together. Next come all those various forms of reunion
in which the entertainment consists of something higher than staring and
eating,--some exercise of the faculties of the guests in music, acting,
recitation, reading, etc.; and these are a great advance, because they
show people what is in them, and thus lay a foundation for a more
intelligent appreciation and acquaintance. These are the best substitute
for the expense, show, and trouble of large parties. They are in their
nature more refining and intellectual. It is astonishing, when people
really put together, in some one club or association, all the different
talents for pleasing possessed by different persons, how clever a circle
may be gathered,--in the least promising neighborhood. A club of ladies
in one of our cities has had quite a brilliant success. It is held every
fortnight at the house of the members, according to alphabetical
sequence. The lady who receives has charge of arranging what the
entertainment shall be,--whether charade, tableau, reading, recitation,
or music; and the interest is much increased by the individual taste
shown in the choice of the diversion and the variety which thence
follows.

"In the summer time, in the country, open-air reunions are charming
forms of social entertainment. Croquet parties, which bring young people
together by daylight for a healthy exercise, and end with a moderate
share of the evening, are a very desirable amusement. What are called
'lawn teas' are finding great favor in England and some parts of our
country. They are simply an early tea enjoyed in a sort of picnic style
in the grounds about the house. Such an entertainment enables one to
receive a great many at a time, without crowding, and, being in its very
idea rustic and informal, can be arranged with very little expense or
trouble. With the addition of lanterns in the trees and a little music,
this entertainment may be carried on far into the evening with a very
pretty effect.

"As to dancing, I have this much to say of it. Either our houses must be
all built over and made larger, or female crinolines must be made
smaller, or dancing must continue as it now is, the most absurd and
ungraceful of all attempts at amusement. The effort to execute round
dances in the limits of modern houses, in the prevailing style of dress,
can only lead to developments more startling than agreeable. Dancing in
the open air, on the shaven green of lawns, is a pretty and graceful
exercise, and there only can full sweep be allowed for the present
feminine toilet.

"The English breakfast is an institution growing in favor here, and
rightfully, too; for a party of fresh, good-natured, well-dressed
people, assembled at breakfast on a summer morning, is as nearly perfect
a form of reunion as can be devised. All are in full strength from their
night's rest; the hour is fresh and lovely, and they are in condition to
give each other the very cream of their thoughts, the first keen sparkle
of the uncorked nervous system. The only drawback is, that, in our busy
American life, the most desirable gentlemen often cannot spare their
morning hours. Breakfast parties presuppose a condition of leisure; but
when they can be compassed, they are perhaps the most perfectly
enjoyable of entertainments."

"Well," said Marianne, "I begin to waver about my party. I don't know,
after all, but the desire of paying off social debts prompted the idea;
perhaps we might try some of the agreeable things suggested. But, dear
me! there's the baby. We'll finish the talk some other time."



VIII.

HOW SHALL WE BE AMUSED?


"One, two, three, four,--this makes the fifth accident on the Fourth of
July, in the two papers I have just read," said Jenny.

"A very moderate allowance," said Theophilus Thoro, "if you consider the
Fourth as a great national saturnalia, in which every boy in the land
has the privilege of doing whatever is right in his own eyes."

"The poor boys!" said Mrs. Crowfield. "All the troubles of the world are
laid at their door."

"Well," said Jenny, "they did burn the city of Portland, it appears. The
fire arose from fire-crackers, thrown by boys among the shavings of a
carpenter's shop,--so says the paper."

"And," said Rudolph, "we surgeons expect a harvest of business from the
Fourth, as surely as from a battle. Certain to be woundings, fractures,
possibly amputations, following the proceedings of our glorious
festival."

"Why cannot we Americans learn to amuse ourselves peaceably like other
nations?" said Bob Stephens. "In France and Italy, the greatest national
festivals pass off without fatal accident, or danger to any one. The
fact is, in our country we have not learned _how to be amused_.
Amusement has been made of so small account in our philosophy of life,
that we are raw and unpractised in being amused. Our diversions,
compared with those of the politer nations of Europe, are coarse and
savage,--and consist mainly in making disagreeable noises and disturbing
the peace of the community by rude uproar. The only idea an American boy
associates with the Fourth of July is that of gunpowder in some form,
and a wild liberty to fire off pistols in all miscellaneous directions,
and to throw fire-crackers under the heels of horses, and into crowds of
women and children, for the fun of seeing the stir and commotion thus
produced. Now take a young Parisian boy and give him a fête, and he
conducts himself with greater gentleness and good breeding, because he
is part of a community in which the art of amusement has been refined
and perfected, so that he has a thousand resources beyond the very
obvious one of making a great banging and disturbance.

"Yes," continued Bob Stephens, "the fact is, that our grim old Puritan
fathers set their feet down resolutely on all forms of amusement; they
would have stopped the lambs from wagging their tails, and shot the
birds for singing, if they could have had their way; and in consequence
of it, what a barren, cold, flowerless life is our New England
existence! Life is all, as Mantalini said, one 'demd horrid grind.'
'Nothing here but working and going to church,' said the German
emigrants,--and they were about right. A French traveller, in the year
1837, says that attending the Thursday-evening lectures and church
prayer-meetings was the only recreation of the young people of Boston;
and we can remember the time when this really was no exaggeration. Think
of that, with all the seriousness of our Boston east winds to give it
force, and fancy the provision for amusement in our society! The
consequence is, that boys who have the longing for amusement strongest
within them, and plenty of combativeness to back it, are the standing
terror of good society, and our Fourth of July is a day of fear to all
invalids and persons of delicate nervous organization, and of real,
appreciable danger of life and limb to every one."

"Well, Robert," said my wife, "though I agree with you as to the actual
state of society in this respect, I must enter my protest against your
slur on the memory of our Pilgrim fathers."

"Yes," said Theophilus Thoro, "the New-Englanders are the only people,
I believe, who take delight in vilifying their ancestry. Every young
hopeful in our day makes a target of his grandfather's gravestone, and
fires away, with great self-applause. People in general seem to like to
show that they are well-born, and come of good stock; but the young
New-Englanders, many of them, appear to take pleasure in insisting that
they came of a race of narrow-minded, persecuting bigots.

"It is true, that our Puritan fathers saw not everything. They made a
state where there were no amusements, but where people could go to bed
and leave their house doors wide open all night, without a shadow of
fear or danger, as was for years the custom in all our country villages.
The fact is, that the simple early New England life, before we began to
import foreigners, realized a state of society in whose possibility
Europe would scarcely believe. If our fathers had few amusements, they
needed few. Life was too really and solidly comfortable and happy to
need much amusement.

"Look over the countries where people are most sedulously amused by
their rulers and governors. Are they not the countries where the people
are most oppressed, most unhappy in their circumstances, and therefore
in greatest need of amusement? It is the slave who dances and sings, and
why? Because he owns nothing, and _can_ own nothing, and may as well
dance and forget the fact. But give the slave a farm of his own, a wife
of his own, and children of his own, with a school-house and a vote, and
ten to one he dances no more. He needs no _amusement_, because he is
_happy_.

"The legislators of Europe wished nothing more than to bring up a people
who would be content with amusements, and not ask after their rights or
think too closely how they were governed. 'Gild the dome of the
Invalides,' was Napoleon's scornful prescription, when he heard the
Parisian population were discontented. They gilded it, and the people
forgot to talk about anything else. They were a childish race, educated
from the cradle on spectacle and show, and by the sight of their eyes
could they be governed. The people of Boston, in 1776, could not have
been managed in this way, chiefly because they were brought up in the
strict schools of the fathers."

"But don't you think," said Jenny, "that something might be added and
amended in the state of society our fathers established here in New
England? Without becoming frivolous, there might be more attention paid
to rational amusement."

"Certainly," said my wife, "the State and the Church both might take a
lesson from the providence of foreign governments, and make liberty, to
say the least, as attractive as despotism. It is a very unwise mother
that does not provide her children with playthings."

"And yet," said Bob, "the only thing that the Church has yet done is to
forbid and to frown. We have abundance of tracts against dancing,
whist-playing, ninepins, billiards, operas, theatres,--in short,
anything that young people would be apt to like. The General Assembly of
the Presbyterian Church refused to testify against slavery, because of
political diffidence, but made up for it by ordering a more stringent
crusade against dancing. The theatre and opera grow up and exist among
us like plants on the windy side of a hill, blown all awry by a constant
blast of conscientious rebuke. There is really no amusement young people
are fond of, which they do not pursue, in a sort of defiance of the
frown of the peculiarly religious world. With all the telling of what
the young shall _not_ do, there has been very little telling what they
shall do.

"The whole department of amusements--certainly one of the most important
in education--has been by the Church made a sort of outlaws' ground, to
be taken possession of and held by all sorts of spiritual ragamuffins;
and then the faults and short-comings resulting from this arrangement
have been held up and insisted on as reasons why no Christian should
ever venture into it.

"If the Church would set herself to amuse her young folks, instead of
discussing doctrines and metaphysical hair-splitting, she would prove
herself a true mother, and not a hard-visaged step-dame. Let her keep
this department, so powerful and so difficult to manage, in what are
morally the strongest hands, instead of giving it up to the weakest.

"I think, if the different churches of a city, for example, would rent a
building where there should be a billiard-table, one or two
ninepin-alleys, a reading-room, a garden and grounds for ball-playing or
innocent lounging, that they would do more to keep their young people
from the ways of sin than a Sunday school could. Nay, more: I would go
further. I would have a portion of the building fitted up with scenery
and a stage, for the getting up of tableaux or dramatic performances,
and thus give scope for the exercise of that histrionic talent of which
there is so much lying unemployed in society.

"Young people do not like amusements any better for the wickedness
connected with them. The spectacle of a sweet little child singing
hymns, and repeating prayers, of a pious old Uncle Tom dying for his
religion, has filled theatres night after night, and proved that there
really is no need of indecent or improper plays to draw full houses.

"The things that draw young people to places of amusement are not at
first gross things. Take the most notorious public place in Paris,--the
Jardin Mabille, for instance,--and the things which give it its first
charm are all innocent and artistic. Exquisite beds of lilies, roses,
gillyflowers, lighted with jets of gas so artfully as to make every
flower translucent as a gem; fountains where the gas-light streams out
from behind misty wreaths of falling water and calla-blossoms; sofas of
velvet turf, canopied with fragrant honeysuckle; dim bowers overarched
with lilacs and roses; a dancing ground under trees whose branches bend
with a fruitage of many-colored lamps; enchanting music and graceful
motion; in all these there is not only no sin, but they are really
beautiful and desirable; and if they were only used on the side and in
the service of virtue and religion, if they were contrived and kept up
by the guardians and instructors of youth, instead of by those whose
interest it is to demoralize and destroy, young people would have no
temptation to stray into the haunts of vice.

"In Prussia, under the reign of Frederick William II., when one good,
hard-handed man governed the whole country like a strict schoolmaster,
the public amusements for the people were made such as to present a
model for all states. The theatres were strictly supervised, and actors
obliged to conform to the rules of decorum and morality. The plays and
performances were under the immediate supervision of men of grave
morals, who allowed nothing corrupting to appear; and the effect of this
administration and restraint is to be seen in Berlin even to this day.
The public gardens are full of charming little resorts, where, every
afternoon, for a very moderate sum, one can have either a concert of
good music, or a very fair dramatic or operatic performance. Here whole
families may be seen enjoying together a wholesome and refreshing
entertainment,--the mother and aunts with their knitting, the baby, the
children of all ages, and the father,--their faces radiant with that
mild German light of contentment and good-will which one feels to be
characteristic of the nation. When I saw these things, and thought of
our own outcast, unprovided boys and young men, haunting the streets and
alleys of cities, in places far from the companionship of mothers and
sisters, I felt as if it would be better for a nation to be brought up
by a good strict schoolmaster king than to try to be a republic."

"Yes," said I, "but the difficulty is to _get_ the good schoolmaster
king. For one good shepherd, there are twenty who use the sheep only for
their flesh and their wool. Republics can do all that kings
can,--witness our late army and Sanitary Commission. Once fix the idea
thoroughly in the public mind that there ought to be as regular and
careful provision for public amusement as there is for going to church
and Sunday school, and it will be done. Central Park in New York is a
beginning in the right direction, and Brooklyn is following the example
of her sister city. There is, moreover, an indication of the proper
spirit in the increased efforts that are made to beautify Sunday-school
rooms, and make them interesting, and to have Sunday-school fêtes and
picnics,--the most harmless and commendable way of celebrating the
Fourth of July. Why should saloons and bar-rooms be made attractive by
fine paintings, choice music, flowers, and fountains, and Sunday-school
rooms be four bare walls? There are churches whose broad aisles
represent ten and twenty millions of dollars, and whose sons and
daughters are daily drawn to circuses, operas, theatres, because they
have tastes and feelings, in themselves perfectly laudable and innocent,
for the gratification of which no provision is made in any other place."

"I know one church," said Rudolph, "whose Sunday-school room is as
beautifully adorned as any haunt of sin. There is a fountain in the
centre, which plays into a basin surrounded with shells and flowers; it
has a small organ to lead the children's voices, and the walls are hung
with oil-paintings and engravings from the best masters. The festivals
of the Sabbath school, which are from time to time held in this place,
educate the taste of the children, as well as amuse them; and, above
all, they have through life the advantage of associating with their
early religious education all those ideas of taste, elegance, and
artistic culture which too often come through polluted channels.

"When the _amusement_ of the young shall become the care of the
experienced and the wise, and the floods of wealth that are now rolling
over and over, in silent investments, shall be put into the form of
innocent and refined pleasures for the children and youth of the state,
our national festivals may become days to be desired, and not dreaded.

"On the Fourth of July, our city fathers do in a certain dim wise
perceive that the public owes some attempt at amusement to its children,
and they vote large sums, principally expended in bell-ringing, cannons,
and fireworks. The side-walks are witness to the number who fall victims
to the temptations held out by grog-shops and saloons; and the papers,
for weeks after, are crowded with accounts of accidents. Now, a yearly
sum expended to keep up, and keep pure, places of amusement which hold
out no temptation to vice, but which excel all vicious places in real
beauty and attractiveness, would greatly lessen the sum needed to be
expended on any one particular day, and would refine and prepare our
people to keep holidays and festivals appropriately."

"For my part," said Mrs. Crowfield, "I am grieved at the opprobrium
which falls on the race of _boys_. Why should the most critical era in
the life of those who are to be men, and to _govern_ society, be passed
in a sort of outlawry,--a rude warfare with all existing institutions?
The years between ten and twenty are full of the nervous excitability
which marks the growth and maturing of the manly nature. The boy feels
wild impulses, which ought to be vented in legitimate and healthful
exercise. He wants to run, shout, wrestle, ride, row, skate; and all
these together are often not sufficient to relieve the need he feels of
throwing off the excitability that burns within.

"For the wants of this period what safe provision is made by the Church,
or by the State, or any of the boy's lawful educators? In all the
Prussian schools amusements are as much a part of the regular
school-system as grammar or geography. The teacher is with the boys on
the play-ground, and plays as heartily as any of them. The boy has his
physical wants anticipated. He is not left to fight his way, blindly
stumbling against society, but goes forward in a safe path, which his
elders and betters have marked out for him.

"In our country, the boy's career is often a series of skirmishes with
society. He wants to skate, and contrives ingeniously to dam the course
of a brook, and flood a meadow which makes a splendid skating-ground.
Great is the joy for a season, and great the skating. But the water
floods the neighboring cellars. The boys are cursed through all the
moods and tenses,--boys are such a plague! The dam is torn down with
emphasis and execration. The boys, however, lie in wait some cold night,
between twelve and one, and build it up again; and thus goes on the
battle. The boys care not whose cellar they flood, because nobody cares
for their amusement. They understand themselves to be outlaws, and take
an outlaw's advantage.

"Again, the boys have their sleds; and sliding down hill is splendid
fun. But they trip up some grave citizen, who sprains his shoulder. What
is the result? Not the provision of a safe, good place, where boys _may_
slide down hill without danger to any one, but an edict forbidding all
sliding, under penalty of fine.

"Boys want to swim: it is best they should swim; and if city fathers,
foreseeing and caring for this want, should think it worth while to mark
off some good place, and have it under such police surveillance as to
enforce decency of language and demeanor, they would prevent a great
deal that now is disagreeable in the unguided efforts of boys to enjoy
this luxury.

"It would be _cheaper_ in the end, even if one had to build
sliding-piles, as they do in Russia, or to build skating-rinks, as they
do in Montreal,--it would be cheaper for every city, town, and village
to provide legitimate amusement for boys, under proper superintendence,
than to leave them, as they are now left, to fight their way against
society.

"In the boys' academies of our country, what provision is made for
amusement? There are stringent rules, and any number of them, to prevent
boys making any noise that may disturb the neighbors; and generally the
teacher thinks that, if he keeps the boys _still_, and sees that they
get their lessons, his duty is done. But a hundred boys ought not to be
kept still. There ought to be noise and motion among them, in order that
they may healthily survive the great changes which Nature is working
within them. If they become silent, averse to movement, fond of indoor
lounging and warm rooms, they are going in far worse ways than any
amount of outward lawlessness could bring them to.

"Smoking and yellow-covered novels are worse than any amount of
hullabaloo; and the quietest boy is often a poor, ignorant victim, whose
life is being drained out of him before it is well begun. If mothers
could only see the _series of books_ that are sold behind counters to
boarding-school boys, whom nobody warns and nobody cares for,--if they
could see the poison, going from pillow to pillow, in books pretending
to make clear the great, sacred mysteries of our nature, but trailing
them over with the filth of utter corruption! These horrible works are
the inward and secret channel of hell, into which a boy is thrust by the
pressure of strict outward rules, forbidding that physical and
out-of-door exercise and motion to which he ought rather to be
encouraged, and even driven.

"It is melancholy to see that, while parents, teachers, and churches
make no provision for boys in the way of amusement, the world, the
flesh, and the Devil are incessantly busy and active in giving it to
them. There are ninepin-alleys, with cigars and a bar. There are
billiard-saloons, with a bar, and, alas! with the occasional company of
girls who are still beautiful, but who have lost the innocence of
womanhood, while yet retaining many of its charms. There are theatres,
with a bar, and with the society of lost women. The boy comes to one and
all of these places, seeking only what is natural and proper he should
have,--what should be given him under the eye and by the care of the
Church, the school. He comes for exercise and amusement,--he gets these,
and a ticket to destruction besides,--and whose fault is it?"

"These are the aspects of public life," said I, "which make me feel that
we never shall have a perfect state till women vote and bear rule
equally with men. State housekeeping has been, hitherto, like what any
housekeeping would be, conducted by the voice and knowledge of man
alone.

"If women had an equal voice in the management of our public money, I
have faith to believe that thousands which are now wasted in mere
political charlatanism would go to provide for the rearing of the
children of the state, male and female. My wife has spoken for the boys;
I speak for the girls also. What is provided for their physical
development and amusement? Hot, gas-lighted theatric and operatic
performances, beginning at eight, and ending at midnight; hot, crowded
parties and balls; dancing with dresses tightly laced over the laboring
lungs,--these are almost the whole story. I bless the advent of croquet
and skating. And yet the latter exercise, pursued as it generally is, is
a most terrible exposure. There is no kindly parental provision for the
poor, thoughtless, delicate young creature,--not even the shelter of a
dressing-room with a fire, at which she may warm her numb fingers and
put on her skates when she arrives on the ground, and to which she may
retreat in intervals of fatigue; so she catches cold, and perhaps sows
the seed which with air-tight stoves and other appliances of hot-house
culture may ripen into consumption.

"What provision is there for the amusement of all the shop girls,
seamstresses, factory girls, that crowd our cities? What for the
thousands of young clerks and operatives? Not long since, in a
respectable old town in New England, the body of a beautiful girl was
drawn from the river in which she had drowned herself,--a young girl
only fifteen, who came to the city, far from home and parents, and fell
a victim to the temptation which brought her to shame and desperation.
Many thus fall every year who are never counted. They fall into the
ranks of those whom the world abandons as irreclaimable.

"Let those who have homes and every appliance to make life pass
agreeably, and who yet yawn over an unoccupied evening, fancy a lively
young girl all day cooped up at sewing in a close, ill-ventilated room.
Evening comes, and she has three times the desire for amusement and
three times the need of it that her fashionable sister has. And where
can she go? To the theatre, perhaps, with some young man as thoughtless
as herself, and more depraved; then to the bar for a glass of wine, and
another; and then, with a head swimming and turning, who shall say where
else she may be led? Past midnight and no one to look after her,--and
one night ruins her utterly and for life, and she as yet only a child!

"John Newton had a very wise saying: 'Here is a man trying to fill a
bushel with chaff. Now if I fill it with wheat first, it is better than
to fight him.' This apothegm contains in it the whole of what I would
say on the subject of amusements."



IX.

DRESS, OR WHO MAKES THE FASHIONS.


The door of my study being open, I heard in the distant parlor a sort of
flutter of silken wings, and chatter of bird-like voices, which told me
that a covey of Jennie's pretty young street birds had just alighted
there. I could not forbear a peep at the rosy faces that glanced out
under pheasants' tails, doves' wings, and nodding humming-birds, and
made one or two errands in that direction only that I might gratify my
eyes with a look at them.

Your nice young girl, of good family and good breeding, is always a
pretty object, and, for my part, I regularly lose my heart (in a sort of
figurative way) to every fresh, charming creature that trips across my
path. All their mysterious rattle-traps and whirligigs,--their curls and
networks and crimples and rimples and crisping-pins,--their little
absurdities, if you will,--have to me a sort of charm, like the tricks
and stammerings of a curly-headed child. I should have made a very poor
censor if I had been put in Cato's place: the witches would have thrown
all my wisdom into some private chip-basket of their own, and walked off
with it in triumph. Never a girl bows to me that I do not see in her eye
a twinkle of confidence that she could, if she chose, make an old fool
of me. I surrender at discretion on first sight.

Jennie's friends are nice girls,--the flowers of good, staid, sensible
families,--not heathen blossoms nursed in the hot-bed heat of wild,
high-flying, fashionable society. They have been duly and truly taught
and brought up, by good mothers and painstaking aunties, to understand
in their infancy that handsome is that handsome does; that little girls
must not be vain of their pretty red shoes and nice curls, and must
remember that it is better to be good than to be handsome; with all
other wholesome truisms of the kind. They have been to school, and had
their minds improved in all modern ways,--have calculated eclipses, and
read Virgil, Schiller, and La Fontaine, and understand all about the
geological strata, and the different systems of metaphysics,--so that a
person reading the list of their acquirements might be a little appalled
at the prospect of entering into conversation with them. For all these
reasons I listened quite indulgently to the animated conversation that
was going on about--Well!

What _do_ girls generally talk about, when a knot of them get together?
Not, I believe, about the sources of the Nile, or the precession of the
equinoxes, or the nature of the human understanding, or Dante, or
Shakespeare, or Milton, although they have learned all about them in
school; but upon a theme much nearer and dearer,--the one all-pervading
feminine topic ever since Eve started the first toilet of fig-leaves;
and as I caught now and then a phrase of their chatter, I jotted it down
in pure amusement, giving to each charming speaker the name of the bird
under whose colors she was sailing.

"For my part," said little Humming-Bird, "I'm quite worn out with
sewing; the fashions are all _so_ different from what they were last
year, that everything has to be made over."

"Isn't it dreadful!" said Pheasant. "There's my new mauve silk dress! it
was a very expensive silk, and I haven't worn it more than three or four
times, and it really looks quite dowdy; and I can't get Patterson to do
it over for me for this party. Well, really, I shall have to give up
company because I have nothing to wear."

"Who _does_ set the fashions, I wonder," said Humming-Bird; "they seem
nowadays to whirl faster and faster, till really they don't leave one
time for anything."

"Yes," said Dove, "I haven't a moment for reading, or drawing, or
keeping up my music. The fact is, nowadays, to keep one's self properly
dressed is all one can do. If I were _grande dame_ now, and had only to
send an order to my milliner and dressmaker, I might be beautifully
dressed all the time without giving much thought to it myself; and that
is what I should like. But this constant planning about one's toilet,
changing your buttons and your fringes and your bonnet-trimmings and
your hats every other day, and then being behindhand! It is really too
fatiguing."

"Well," said Jennie, "I never pretend to keep up. I never expect to be
in the front rank of fashion, but no girl wants to be behind every one;
nobody wants to have people say, 'Do see what an old-times, rubbishy
looking creature _that_ is.' And now, with my small means and my
conscience, (for I have a conscience in this matter, and don't wish to
spend any more time and money than is needed to keep one's self fresh
and tasteful,) I find my dress quite a fatiguing care."

"Well, now, girls," said Humming-Bird, "do you really know, I have
sometimes thought I should like to be a nun, just to get rid of all this
labor. If I once gave up dress altogether, and knew I was to have
nothing but one plain robe tied round my waist with a cord, it does
seem to me as if it would be a perfect repose,--only one is a
Protestant, you know."

Now, as Humming-Bird was the most notoriously dressy individual in the
little circle, this suggestion was received with quite a laugh. But Dove
took it up.

"Well, really," she said, "when dear Mr. S---- preaches those saintly
sermons to us about our baptismal vows, and the nobleness of an
unworldly life, and calls on us to live for something purer and higher
than we are living for, I confess that sometimes all my life seems to me
a mere sham,--that I am going to church, and saying solemn words, and
being wrought up by solemn music, and uttering most solemn vows and
prayers, all to no purpose; and then I come away and look at my life,
all resolving itself into a fritter about dress, and sewing-silk, cord,
braid, and buttons,--the next fashion of bonnets,--how to make my old
dresses answer instead of new,--how to keep the air of the world, while
in my heart I am cherishing something higher and better. If there's
anything I detest it is hypocrisy; and sometimes the life I lead looks
like it. But how to get out of it? what to do?"

"I'm sure," said Humming-Bird, "that taking care of my clothes and going
into company is, frankly, _all_ I do. If I go to parties, as other girls
do, and make calls, and keep dressed,--you know papa is not rich, and
one must do these things economically,--it really does take all the time
I have. When I was confirmed the Bishop talked to us so sweetly, and I
really meant sincerely to be a good girl,--to be as good as I knew how;
but now, when they talk about fighting the good fight and running the
Christian race, I feel very mean and little, for I am quite sure this
isn't doing it. But what is,--and who is?"

"Aunt Betsey Titcomb is doing it, I suppose," said Pheasant.

"Aunt Betsey!" said Humming-Bird, "well, she is. She spends _all_ her
money in doing good. She goes round visiting the poor all the time. She
is a perfect saint;--but O girls, how she looks! Well, now, I confess,
when I think I must look like Aunt Betsey, my courage gives out. _Is_ it
necessary to go without hoops, and look like a dipped candle, in order
to be unworldly? Must one wear such a fright of a bonnet?"

"No," said Jennie, "I think not. I think Miss Betsey Titcomb, good as
she is, injures the cause of goodness by making it outwardly repulsive.
I really think, if she would take some pains with her dress, and spend
upon her own wardrobe a little of the money she gives away, that she
might have influence in leading others to higher aims; now all her
influence is against it. Her _outré_ and repulsive exterior arrays our
natural and innocent feelings against goodness; for surely it is natural
and innocent to wish to look well, and I am really afraid a great many
of us are more afraid of being thought ridiculous than of being wicked."

"And after all," said Pheasant, "you know Mr. St. Clair says, 'Dress is
one of the fine arts,' and if it is, why of course we ought to cultivate
it. Certainly, well-dressed men and women are more agreeable objects
than rude and unkempt ones. There must be somebody whose mission it is
to preside over the agreeable arts of life; and I suppose it falls to
'us girls.' That's the way I comfort myself, at all events. Then I must
confess that I do like dress; I'm not cultivated enough to be a painter
or a poet, and I have all my artistic nature, such as it is, in dress. I
love harmonies of color, exact shades and matches; I love to see a
uniform idea carried all through a woman's toilet,--her dress, her
bonnet, her gloves, her shoes, her pocket-handkerchief and cuffs, her
very parasol, all in correspondence."

"But my dear," said Jennie, "anything of this kind must take a fortune!"

"And if I had a fortune, I'm pretty sure I should spend a good deal of
it in this way," said Pheasant. "I can imagine such completeness of
toilet as I have never seen. How I would like the means to show what I
could do! My life, now, is perpetual disquiet. I always feel shabby. My
things must all be bought at hap-hazard, as they can be got out of my
poor little allowance,--and things are getting so horridly dear! Only
think of it, girls! gloves at two and a quarter! and boots at seven,
eight, and ten dollars! and then, as you say, the fashions changing so!
Why, I bought a sack last fall and gave forty dollars for it, and this
winter I'm wearing it, to be sure, but it has no style at all,--looks
quite antiquated!"

"Now I say," said Jennie, "that you are really morbid on the subject of
dress; you are fastidious and particular and exacting in your ideas in a
way that really ought to be put down. There is not a girl of our set
that dresses as nicely as you do, except Emma Seyton, and her father,
you know, has no end of income."

"Nonsense, Jennie," said Pheasant. "I think I really look like a beggar;
but then, I bear it as well as I can, because, you see, I know papa does
all for us he can, and I won't be extravagant. But I do think, as
Humming-Bird says, that it would be a great relief to give it up
altogether and retire from the world; or, as Cousin John says, climb a
tree and pull it up after you, and so be in peace."

"Well," said Jennie, "all this seems to have come on since the war. It
seems to me that not only has everything doubled in price, but all the
habits of the world seem to require that you shall have double the
quantity of everything. Two or three years ago a good balmoral skirt was
a fixed fact; it was a convenient thing for sloppy, unpleasant weather.
But now, dear me! there is no end to them. They cost fifteen and twenty
dollars; and girls that I know have one or two every season, besides all
sorts of quilled and embroidered and ruffled and tucked and flounced
ones. Then, in dressing one's hair, what a perfect overflow there is of
all manner of waterfalls, and braids, and rats and mice, and curls, and
combs; when three or four years ago we combed our own hair innocently
behind our ears, and put flowers in it, and thought we looked nicely at
our evening parties! I don't believe we look any better now, when we are
dressed, than we did then,--so what's the use?"

"Well, did you ever see such a tyranny as this of fashion?" said
Humming-Bird. "We know it's silly, but we all bow down before it; we are
afraid of our lives before it; and who makes all this and sets it going?
The Paris milliners, the Empress, or who?"

"The question where fashions come from is like the question where pins
go to," said Pheasant. "Think of the thousands and millions of pins that
are being used every year, and not one of them worn out. Where do they
all go to? One would expect to find a pin mine somewhere."

"Victor Hugo says they go into the sewers in Paris," said Jennie.

"And the fashions come from a source about as pure," said I, from the
next room.

"Bless me, Jennie, do tell us if your father has been listening to us
all this time!" was the next exclamation; and forthwith there was a whir
and rustle of the silken wings, as the whole troop fluttered into my
study.

"Now, Mr. Crowfield, you are too bad!" said Humming-Bird, as she perched
upon a corner of my study-table, and put her little feet upon an old
"Froissart" which filled the arm-chair.

"To be listening to our nonsense!" said Pheasant.

"Lying in wait for us!" said Dove.

"Well, now, you have brought us all down on you," said Humming-Bird,
"and you won't find it so easy to be rid of us. You will have to answer
all our questions."

"My dears, I am at your service, as far as mortal man may be," said I.

"Well, then," said Humming-Bird, "tell us all about everything,--how
things come to be as they are. Who makes the fashions?"

"I believe it is universally admitted that, in the matter of feminine
toilet, France rules the world," said I.

"But who rules France?" said Pheasant. "Who decides what the fashions
shall be there?"

"It is the great misfortune of the civilized world, at the present
hour," said I, "that the state of morals in France is apparently at the
very lowest ebb, and consequently the leadership of fashion is entirely
in the hands of a class of women who could not be admitted into good
society, in any country. Women who can never have the name of wife,--who
know none of the ties of family,--these are the dictators whose dress
and equipage and appointments give the law, first to France, and through
France to the civilized world. Such was the confession of Monsieur
Dupin, made in a late speech before the French Senate, and acknowledged,
with murmurs of assent on all sides, to be the truth. This is the reason
why the fashions have such an utter disregard of all those laws of
prudence and economy which regulate the expenditures of families. They
are made by women whose sole and only hold on life is personal
attractiveness, and with whom to keep this up, at any cost, is a
desperate necessity. No moral quality, no association of purity, truth,
modesty, self-denial, or family love, comes in to hallow the atmosphere
about them, and create a sphere of loveliness which brightens as mere
physical beauty fades. The ravages of time and dissipation must be made
up by an unceasing study of the arts of the toilet. Artists of all
sorts, moving in their train, rack all the stores of ancient and modern
art for the picturesque, the dazzling, the grotesque; and so, lest these
Circes of society should carry all before them, and enchant every
husband, brother, and lover, the staid and lawful Penelopes leave the
hearth and home to follow in their triumphal march and imitate their
arts. Thus it goes in France; and in England, virtuous and domestic
princesses and peeresses must take obediently what has been decreed by
their rulers in the _demi-monde_ of France; and we in America have
leaders of fashion, who make it their pride and glory to turn New York
into Paris, and to keep even step with everything that is going on
there. So the whole world of woman-kind is marching under the command of
these leaders. The love of dress and glitter and fashion is getting to
be a morbid, unhealthy epidemic, which really eats away the nobleness
and purity of women.

"In France, as Monsieur Dupin, Edmond About, and Michelet tell us, the
extravagant demands of love for dress lead women to contract debts
unknown to their husbands, and sign obligations which are paid by the
sacrifice of honor, and thus the purity of the family is continually
undermined. In England there is a voice of complaint, sounding from the
leading periodicals, that the extravagant demands of female fashion are
bringing distress into families, and making marriages impossible; and
something of the same sort seems to have begun here. We are across the
Atlantic, to be sure; but we feel the swirl and drift of the great
whirlpool; only, fortunately, we are far enough off to be able to see
whither things are tending, and to stop ourselves if we will.

"We have just come through a great struggle, in which our women have
borne an heroic part,--have shown themselves capable of any kind of
endurance and self-sacrifice; and now we are in that reconstructive
state which makes it of the greatest consequence to ourselves and the
world that we understand our own institutions and position, and learn
that, instead of following the corrupt and worn-out ways of the Old
World, we are called on to set the example of a new state of
society,--noble, simple, pure, and religious; and women can do more
towards this even than men, for women are the real architects of
society.

"Viewed in this light, even the small, frittering cares of woman's
life--the attention to buttons, trimmings, thread, and sewing-silk--may
be an expression of their patriotism and their religion. A noble-hearted
woman puts a noble meaning into even the commonplace details of life.
The women of America can, if they choose, hold back their country from
following in the wake of old, corrupt, worn-out, effeminate European
society, and make America the leader of the world in all that is good."

"I'm sure," said Humming-Bird, "we all would like to be noble and
heroic. During the war, I did so long to be a man! I felt so poor and
insignificant because I was nothing but a girl!"

"Ah, well," said Pheasant, "but then one wants to do something worth
doing, if one is going to do anything. One would like to be grand and
heroic, if one could; but if not, why try at all? One wants to be _very_
something, _very_ great, _very_ heroic; or if not that, then at least
very stylish and very fashionable. It is this everlasting mediocrity
that bores me."

"Then, I suppose, you agree with the man we read of, who buried his one
talent in the earth, as hardly worth caring for."

"To say the truth, I always had something of a sympathy for that man,"
said Pheasant. "I can't enjoy goodness and heroism in homoeopathic
doses. I want something appreciable. What I can do, being a woman, is a
very different thing from what I should try to do if I were a man, and
had a man's chances: it is so much less--so poor--that it is scarcely
worth trying for."

"You remember," said I, "the apothegm of one of the old divines, that if
two angels were sent down from heaven, the one to govern a kingdom, and
the other to sweep a street, they would not feel any disposition to
change works."

"Well, that just shows that they are angels, and not mortals," said
Pheasant; "but we poor human beings see things differently."

"Yet, my child, what could Grant or Sherman have done, if it had not
been for the thousands of brave privates who were content to do each
their imperceptible little,--if it had not been for the poor, unnoticed,
faithful, never-failing common soldiers, who did the work and bore the
suffering? No _one_ man saved our country, or could save it; nor could
the men have saved it without the women. Every mother that said to her
son, Go; every wife that strengthened the hands of her husband; every
girl who sent courageous letters to her betrothed; every woman who
worked for a fair; every grandam whose trembling hands knit stockings
and scraped lint; every little maiden who hemmed shirts and made
comfort-bags for soldiers,--each and all have been the joint doers of a
great heroic work, the doing of which has been the regeneration of our
era. A whole generation has learned the luxury of thinking heroic
thoughts and being conversant with heroic deeds, and I have faith to
believe that all this is not to go out in a mere crush of fashionable
luxury and folly and frivolous emptiness,--but that our girls are going
to merit the high praise given us by De Tocqueville, when he placed
first among the causes of our prosperity the _noble character of
American women_. Because foolish female persons in New York are striving
to outdo the _demi-monde_ of Paris in extravagance, it must not follow
that every sensible and patriotic matron, and every nice, modest young
girl, must forthwith, and without inquiry, rush as far after them as
they possibly can. Because Mrs. Shoddy opens a ball in a
two-thousand-dollar lace dress, every girl in the land need not look
with shame on her modest white muslin. Somewhere between the fast women
of Paris and the daughters of Christian American families there should
be established a _cordon sanitaire_, to keep out the contagion of
manners, customs, and habits with which a noble-minded, religious
democratic people ought to have nothing to do."

"Well now, Mr. Crowfield," said the Dove, "since you speak us so fair,
and expect so much of us, we must of course try not to fall below your
compliments; but, after all, tell us what is the right standard about
dress. Now we have daily lectures about this at home. Aunt Maria says
that she never saw such times as these, when mothers and daughters,
church-members and worldly people, all seem to be going one way, and sit
down together and talk, as they will, on dress and fashion,--how to have
this made and that altered. We used to be taught, she said, that
church-members had higher things to think of,--that their thoughts ought
to be fixed on something better, and that they ought to restrain the
vanity and worldliness of children and young people; but now, she says,
even before a girl is born, dress is the one thing needful,--the great
thing to be thought of; and so, in every step of the way upward, her
little shoes, and her little bonnets, and her little dresses, and her
corals and her ribbons, are constantly being discussed in her presence,
as the one all-important object of life. Aunt Maria thinks mamma is
dreadful, because she has maternal yearnings over our toilet successes
and fortunes; and we secretly think Aunt Maria is rather soured by old
age, and has forgotten how a girl feels."

"The fact is," said I, "that the love of dress and outside show has been
always such an exacting and absorbing tendency, that it seems to have
furnished work for religionists and economists, in all ages, to keep it
within bounds. Various religious bodies, at the outset, adopted severe
rules in protest against it. The Quakers and the Methodists prescribed
certain fixed modes of costume as a barrier against its frivolities and
follies. In the Romish Church an entrance on any religious order
prescribed entire and total renunciation of all thought and care for the
beautiful in person or apparel, as the first step towards saintship.
The costume of the _religieuse_ seemed to be purposely intended to
imitate the shroudings and swathings of a corpse and the lugubrious
color of a pall, so as forever to remind the wearer that she was dead to
the world of ornament and physical beauty. All great Christian preachers
and reformers have levelled their artillery against the toilet, from the
time of St. Jerome downward; and Tom Moore has put into beautiful and
graceful verse St. Jerome's admonitions to the fair church-goers of his
time.


              'WHO IS THE MAID?

              'ST. JEROME'S LOVE.

     'Who is the maid my spirit seeks,
       Through cold reproof and slander's blight?
     Has _she_ Love's roses on her cheeks?
       Is _hers_ an eye of this world's light?
     No: wan and sunk with midnight prayer
       Are the pale looks of her I love;
     Or if, at times, a light be there,
       Its beam is kindled from above.

     'I chose not her, my heart's elect,
       From those who seek their Maker's shrine
     In gems and garlands proudly decked,
       As if themselves were things divine.
     No: Heaven but faintly warms the breast
       That beats beneath a broidered veil;
     And she who comes in glittering vest
       To mourn her frailty still is frail.

     'Not so the faded form I prize
       And love, because its bloom is gone;
     The glory in those sainted eyes
       Is all the grace _her_ brow puts on.
     And ne'er was Beauty's dawn so bright,
       So touching, as that form's decay,
     Which, like the altar's trembling light,
       In holy lustre wastes away.'


"But the defect of all these modes of warfare on the elegances and
refinements of the toilet was that they were too indiscriminate. They
were in reality founded on a false principle. They took for granted that
there was something radically corrupt and wicked in the body and in the
physical system. According to this mode of viewing things, the body was
a loathsome and pestilent prison, in which the soul was locked up and
enslaved, and the eyes, the ears, the taste, the smell, were all so many
corrupt traitors in conspiracy to poison her. Physical beauty of every
sort was a snare, a Circean enchantment, to be valiantly contended with
and straitly eschewed. Hence they preached, not moderation, but total
abstinence from all pursuit of physical grace and beauty.

"Now, a resistance founded on an over-statement is constantly tending
to reaction. People always have a tendency to begin thinking for
themselves; and when they so think, they perceive that a good and wise
God would not have framed our bodies with such exquisite care only to
corrupt our souls,--that physical beauty, being created in such profuse
abundance around us, and we being possessed with such a longing for it,
must have its uses, its legitimate sphere of exercise. Even the poor,
shrouded nun, as she walks the convent garden, cannot help asking
herself why, if the crimson velvet of the rose was made by God, all
colors except black and white are sinful for her; and the modest Quaker,
after hanging all her house and dressing all her children in drab,
cannot but marvel at the sudden outstreaking of blue and yellow and
crimson in the tulip-beds under her window, and reflect how very
differently the great All-Father arrays the world's housekeeping. The
consequence of all this has been, that the reforms based upon these
severe and exclusive views have gradually gone backward. The Quaker
dress is imperceptibly and gracefully melting away into a refined
simplicity of modern costume, which in many cases seems to be the
perfection of taste. The obvious reflection, that one color of the
rainbow is quite as much of God as another, has led the children of
gentle dove-colored mothers to appear in shades of rose-color, blue,
and lilac; and wise elders have said, it is not so much the color or
the shape that we object to, as giving too much time and too much
money,--if the heart be right with God and man, the bonnet ribbon may be
of any shade you please."

"But don't you think," said Pheasant, "that a certain fixed dress,
marking the unworldly character of a religious order, is desirable? Now,
I have said before that I am very fond of dress. I have a passion for
beauty and completeness in it; and as long as I am in the world and
obliged to dress as the world does, it constantly haunts me, and tempts
me to give more time, more thought, more money, to these things than I
really think they are worth. But I can conceive of giving up this thing
altogether as being much easier than regulating it to the precise point.
I never read of a nun's taking the veil, without a certain thrill of
sympathy. To cut off one's hair, to take off and cast from her, one by
one, all one's trinkets and jewels, to lie down and have the pall thrown
over one, and feel one's self, once for all, dead to the world,--I
cannot help feeling as if this were real, thorough, noble renunciation,
and as if one might rise up from it with a grand, calm consciousness of
having risen to a higher and purer atmosphere, and got above all the
littlenesses and distractions that beset us here. So I have heard
charming young Quaker girls, who, in more thoughtless days, indulged in
what for them was a slight shading of worldly conformity, say that it
was to them a blessed rest when they put on the strict, plain dress, and
felt that they really had taken up the cross and turned their backs on
the world. I can conceive of doing this, much more easily than I can of
striking the exact line between worldly conformity and noble aspiration,
in the life I live now."

"My dear child," said I, "we all overlook one great leading principle of
our nature, and that is, that we are made to find a higher pleasure in
self-sacrifice than in any form of self-indulgence. There is something
grand and pathetic in the idea of an entire self-surrender, to which
every human soul leaps up, as we do to the sound of martial music.

"How many boys of Boston and New York, who had lived effeminate and idle
lives, felt this new power uprising in them in our war! How they
embraced the dirt and discomfort and fatigue and watchings and toils of
camp-life with an eagerness of zest which they had never felt in the
pursuit of mere pleasure, and wrote home burning letters that they never
were so happy in their lives! It was not that dirt and fatigue and
discomfort and watchings and weariness were in themselves agreeable, but
it was a joy to feel themselves able to bear all and surrender all for
something higher than self. Many a poor Battery bully of New York, many
a street rowdy, felt uplifted by the discovery that he too had hid away
under the dirt and dust of his former life this divine and precious
jewel. He leaped for joy to find that he too could be a hero. Think of
the hundreds of thousands of plain, ordinary workingmen, and of
seemingly ordinary boys, who, but for such a crisis, might have passed
through life never knowing this to be in them, and who courageously
endured hunger and thirst and cold, and separation from dearest friends,
for days and weeks and months, when they might, at any day, have bought
a respite by deserting their country's flag! Starving boys, sick at
heart, dizzy in head, pining for home and mother, still found warmth and
comfort in the one thought that they could suffer, die, for their
country; and the graves at Salisbury and Andersonville show in how many
souls this noble power of self-sacrifice to the higher good was
lodged,--how many there were, even in the humblest walks of life, who
preferred death by torture to life in dishonor.

"It is this heroic element in man and woman that makes self-sacrifice an
ennobling and purifying ordeal in any religious profession. The man
really is taken into a higher region of his own nature, and finds a
pleasure in the exercise of higher faculties which he did not suppose
himself to possess. Whatever sacrifice is supposed to be duty, whether
the supposition be really correct or not, has in it an ennobling and
purifying power; and thus the eras of conversion from one form of the
Christian religion to another are often marked with a real and permanent
exaltation of the whole character. But it does not follow that certain
religious beliefs and ordinances are in themselves just, because they
thus touch the great heroic master-chord of the human soul. To wear
sackcloth and sleep on a plank may have been of use to many souls, as
symbolizing the awakening of this higher nature; but, still, the
religion of the New Testament is plainly one which calls to no such
outward and evident sacrifices.

"It was John the Baptist, and not the Messiah, who dwelt in the
wilderness and wore garments of camel's hair; and Jesus was commented
on, not for his asceticism, but for his cheerful, social acceptance of
the average innocent wants and enjoyments of humanity. 'The Son of man
came eating and drinking.' The great, and never-ceasing, and utter
self-sacrifice of his life was not signified by any peculiarity of
costume, or language, or manner; it showed itself only as it
unconsciously welled up in all his words and actions, in his estimates
of life, in all that marked him out as a being of a higher and holier
sphere."

"Then you do not believe in influencing this subject of dress by
religious persons' adopting any particular laws of costume?" said
Pheasant.

"I do not see it to be possible," said I, "considering how society is
made up. There are such differences of taste and character,--people move
in such different spheres, are influenced by such different
circumstances,--that all we can do is to lay down certain great
principles, and leave it to every one to apply them according to
individual needs."

"But what are these principles? There is the grand inquiry."

"Well," said I, "let us feel our way. In the first place, then, we are
all agreed in one starting-point,--that beauty is not to be considered
as a bad thing,--that the love of ornament in our outward and physical
life is not a sinful or a dangerous feeling, and only leads to evil, as
all other innocent things do, by being used in wrong ways. So far we are
all agreed, are we not?"

"Certainly," said all the voices.

"It is, therefore, neither wicked nor silly nor weak-minded to like
beautiful dress, and all that goes to make it up. Jewelry, diamonds,
pearls, emeralds, rubies, and all sorts of pretty things that are made
of them, are as lawful and innocent objects of admiration and desire, as
flowers or birds or butterflies, or the tints of evening skies. Gems, in
fact, are a species of mineral flower; they are the blossoms of the
dark, hard mine; and what they want in perfume they make up in
durability. The best Christian in the world may, without the least
inconsistency, admire them, and say, as a charming, benevolent old
Quaker lady once said to me, 'I do so love to look at beautiful
jewelry!' The love of beautiful dress, in itself, therefore, so far from
being in a bad sense worldly, may be the same indication of a refined
and poetical nature that is given by the love of flowers and of natural
objects.

"In the third place, there is nothing in itself wrong, or unworthy a
rational being, in a certain degree of attention to the fashion of
society in our costume. It is not wrong to be annoyed at unnecessary
departures from the commonly received practices of good society in the
matter of the arrangement of our toilet; and it would indicate rather an
unamiable want of sympathy with our fellow-beings, if we were not
willing, for the most part, to follow what they indicate to be agreeable
in the disposition of our outward affairs."

"Well, I must say, Mr. Crowfield, you are allowing us all a very
generous margin," said Humming-Bird.

"But, now," said I, "I am coming to the restrictions. When is love of
dress excessive and wrong? To this I answer by stating my faith in one
of old Plato's ideas, in which he speaks of beauty and its uses. He says
there were two impersonations of beauty worshipped under the name of
Venus in the ancient times,--the one celestial, born of the highest
gods, the other earthly. To the earthly Venus the sacrifices were such
as were more trivial; to the celestial, such as were more holy. 'The
worship of the earthly Venus,' he says, 'sends us oftentimes on unworthy
and trivial errands, but the worship of the celestial to high and
honorable friendships, to noble aspirations and heroic actions.'

"Now it seems to me that, if we bear in mind this truth in regard to
beauty, we shall have a test with which to try ourselves in the matter
of physical adornment. We are always excessive when we sacrifice the
higher beauty to attain the lower one. A woman who will sacrifice
domestic affection, conscience, self-respect, honor, to love of dress,
we all agree, loves dress too much. She loses the true and higher beauty
of womanhood for the lower beauty of gems and flowers and colors. A girl
who sacrifices to dress all her time, all her strength, all her money,
to the neglect of the cultivation of her mind and heart, and to the
neglect of the claims of others on her helpfulness, is sacrificing the
higher to the lower beauty. Her fault is not the love of beauty, but
loving the wrong and inferior kind.

"It is remarkable that the directions of Holy Writ, in regard to the
female dress, should distinctly take note of this difference between
the higher and the lower beauty which we find in the works of Plato. The
Apostle gives no rule, no specific costume, which should mark the
Christian woman from the Pagan; but says, 'whose adorning, let it not be
that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or
of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in
that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet
spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.' The gold and gems
and apparel are not forbidden; but we are told not to depend on them for
beauty, to the neglect of those imperishable, immortal graces that
belong to the soul. The makers of fashion among whom Christian women
lived when the Apostle wrote were the same class of brilliant and
worthless Aspasias who make the fashions of modern Paris; and all
womankind was sunk into slavish adoration of mere physical adornment
when the Gospel sent forth among them this call to the culture of a
higher and immortal beauty.

"In fine, girls," said I, "you may try yourselves by this standard. You
love dress too much when you care more for your outward adornings than
for your inward dispositions,--when it afflicts you more to have torn
your dress than to have lost your temper,--when you are more troubled by
an ill-fitting gown than by a neglected duty,--when you are less
concerned at having made an unjust comment, or spread a scandalous
report, than at having worn a _passée_ bonnet,--when you are less
troubled at the thought of being found at the last great feast without
the wedding garment, than at being found at the party to-night in the
fashion of last year. No Christian woman, as I view it, ought to give
such attention to her dress as to allow it to take up _all_ of three
very important things, viz.:--


     _All_ her time.
     _All_ her strength.
     _All_ her money.


Whoever does this lives not the Christian, but the Pagan life,--worships
not at the Christian's altar of our Lord Jesus, but at the shrine of the
lower Venus of Corinth and Rome."

"O now, Mr. Crowfield, you frighten me," said Humming-Bird. "I'm so
afraid, do you know, that I am doing exactly that."

"And so am I," said Pheasant; "and yet, certainly, it is not what I mean
or intend to do."

"But how to help it," said Dove.

"My dears," said I, "where there is a will there is a way. Only resolve
that you will put the true beauty first,--that, even if you do have to
seem unfashionable, you will follow the highest beauty of
womanhood,--and the battle is half gained. Only resolve that your time,
your strength, your money, such as you have, shall not all--nor more
than half--be given to mere outward adornment, and you will go right. It
requires only an army of girls animated with this noble purpose to
declare independence in America, and emancipate us from the decrees and
tyrannies of French actresses and ballet-dancers. _En avant_, girls! You
yet can, if you will, save the republic."



X.

WHAT ARE THE SOURCES OF BEAUTY IN DRESS.


The conversation on dress which I had held with Jennie and her little
covey of Birds of Paradise appeared to have worked in the minds of the
fair council, for it was not long before they invaded my study again in
a body. They were going out to a party, but called for Jennie, and of
course gave me and Mrs. Crowfield the privilege of seeing them equipped
for conquest.

Latterly, I must confess, the mysteries of the toilet rites have
impressed me with a kind of superstitious awe. Only a year ago my
daughter Jennie had smooth dark hair, which she wreathed in various
soft, flowing lines about her face, and confined in a classical knot on
the back of her head. Jennie had rather a talent for _coiffure_, and the
arrangement of her hair was one of my little artistic delights. She
always had something there,--a leaf, a spray, a bud or blossom, that
looked fresh, and had a sort of poetical grace of its own.

But in a gradual way all this has been changing. Jennie's him first
became slightly wavy, then curly, finally frizzly, presenting a tumbled
and twisted appearance, which gave me great inward concern; but when I
spoke upon the subject I was always laughingly silenced with the
definitive settling remark: "O, it's the fashion, papa! Everybody wears
it so."

I particularly objected to the change on my own small account, because
the smooth, breakfast-table _coiffure_, which I had always so much
enjoyed, was now often exchanged for a peculiarly bristling appearance;
the hair being variously twisted, tortured, woven, and wound, without
the least view to immediate beauty or grace. But all this, I was
informed, was the necessary means towards crimping for some evening
display of a more elaborate nature than usual.

Mrs. Crowfield and myself are not party-goers by profession, but Jennie
insists on our going out at least once or twice in a season, just, as
she says, to keep up with the progress of society; and at these times I
have been struck with frequent surprise by the general untidiness which
appeared to have come over the heads of all my female friends. I know,
of course, that I am only a poor, ignorant, bewildered man-creature; but
to my uninitiated eyes they looked as if they had all, after a very
restless and perturbed sleep, come out of bed without smoothing their
tumbled and disordered locks. Then, every young lady, without exception,
seemed to have one kind of hair, and that the kind which was rather
suggestive of the term _woolly_. Every sort of wild _abandon_ of frowzy
locks seemed to be in vogue; in some cases the hair appearing to my
vision nothing but a confused snarl, in which glittered tinklers,
spangles, and bits of tinsel, and from which waved long pennants and
streamers of different-colored ribbons.

I was in fact very greatly embarrassed by my first meeting with some
very charming girls, whom I thought I knew as familiarly as my own
daughter Jennie, and whose soft, pretty hair had often formed the object
of my admiration. Now, however, they revealed themselves to me in
_coiffures_ which forcibly reminded me of the electrical experiments
which used to entertain us in college, when the subject stood on the
insulated stool, and each particular hair of his head bristled and rose,
and set up, as it were, on its own account. This high-flying condition
of the tresses, and the singularity of the ornaments which appeared to
be thrown at hap-hazard into them, suggested so oddly the idea of a
bewitched person, that I could scarcely converse with any presence of
mind, or realize that these really were the nice, well-informed,
sensible little girls of my own neighborhood,--the good daughters, good
sisters, Sunday-school teachers, and other familiar members of our best
educated circles; and I came away from the party in a sort of blue maze,
and hardly in a state to conduct myself with credit in the examination
through which I knew Jennie would put me as to the appearance of her
different friends.

I know not how it is, but the glamour of fashion in the eyes of girlhood
is so complete, that the oddest, wildest, most uncouth devices find
grace and favor in the eyes of even well-bred girls, when once that
invisible, ineffable _aura_ has breathed over them which declares them
to be fashionable. They may defy them for a time,--they may pronounce
them horrid; but it is with a secretly melting heart, and with a mental
reservation to look as nearly like the abhorred spectacle as they
possibly can on the first favorable opportunity.

On the occasion of the visit referred to, Jennie ushered her three
friends in triumph into my study; and, in truth, the little room seemed
to be perfectly transformed by their brightness. My honest, nice,
lovable little Yankee-fireside girls were, to be sure, got up in a style
that would have done credit to Madame Pompadour, or any of the most
questionable characters of the time of Louis XIV. or XV. They were
frizzled and powdered, and built up in elaborate devices; they wore on
their hair flowers, gems, streamers, tinklers, humming-birds,
butterflies, South American beetles, beads, bugles, and all imaginable
rattle-traps, which jingled and clinked with every motion; and yet, as
they were three or four fresh, handsome, intelligent, bright-eyed girls,
there was no denying the fact that they _did look extremely pretty_; and
as they sailed hither and thither before me, and gazed down upon me in
the saucy might of their rosy girlhood, there was a gay defiance in
Jennie's demand, "Now, papa, how do you like us?"

"Very charming," answered I, surrendering at discretion.

"I told you, girls, that you could convert him to the fashions, if he
should once see you in party trim."

"I beg pardon, my dear; I am not converted to the fashion, but to you,
and that is a point on which I didn't need conversion; but the present
fashions, even so fairly represented as I see them, I humbly confess I
dislike."

"O Mr. Crowfield!"

"Yes, my dears, I do. But then, I protest, I'm not fairly treated. I
think, for a young American girl, who looks as most of my fair friends
do look, to come down with her bright eyes and all her little panoply of
graces upon an old fellow like me, and expect him to like a fashion
merely because _she_ looks well in it, is all sheer nonsense. Why,
girls, if you wore rings in your noses, and bangles on your arms up to
your elbows, if you tied your hair in a war-knot on the top of your
heads like the Sioux Indians, you would look pretty still. The question
isn't, as I view it, whether you look pretty,--for that you do, and that
you will, do what you please and dress how you will. The question is
whether you might not look prettier, whether another style of dress, and
another mode of getting up, would not be far more becoming. I am one who
thinks that it would."

"Now, Mr. Crowfield, you positively are too bad," said Humming-Bird,
whose delicate head was encircled by a sort of crapy cloud of bright
hair, sparkling with gold-dust and spangles, in the midst of which, just
over her forehead, a gorgeous blue butterfly was perched, while a
confused mixture of hairs, gold-powder, spangles, stars, and tinkling
ornaments fell in a sort of cataract down her pretty neck. "You see, we
girls think everything of you; and now we don't like it that you don't
like our fashions."

"Why, my little princess, so long as I like you better than your
fashions, and merely think they are not worthy of you, what's the harm?"

"O yes, to be sure. You sweeten the dose to us babies with that
sugar-plum. But really, Mr. Crowfield, why don't you like the fashions?"

"Because, to my view, they are in great part in false taste, and injure
the beauty of the girls," said I. "They are inappropriate to their
characters, and make them look like a kind and class of women whom they
do not, and I trust never will, resemble internally, and whose mark
therefore they ought not to bear externally. But there you are,
beguiling me into a sermon which you will only hate me in your hearts
for preaching. Go along, children! You certainly look as well as anybody
can in that style of getting up; so go to your party, and to-morrow
night, when you are tired and sleepy, if you'll come with your crochet,
and sit in my study, I will read you Christopher Crowfield's
dissertation on dress."

"That will be amusing, to say the least," said Humming-Bird; "and, be
sure, we will all be here. And mind, you have to show good reasons for
disliking the present fashion."

So the next evening there was a worsted party in my study, sitting in
the midst of which I read as follows:


"WHAT ARE THE SOURCES OF BEAUTY IN DRESS.

"The first one is _appropriateness_. Colors and forms and modes, in
themselves graceful or beautiful, can become ungraceful and ridiculous
simply through inappropriateness. The most lovely bonnet that the most
approved _modiste_ can invent, if worn on the head of a coarse-faced
Irishwoman bearing a market-basket on her arm, excites no emotion but
that of the ludicrous. The most elegant and brilliant evening dress, if
worn in the daytime in a railroad car, strikes every one with a sense of
absurdity; whereas both these objects in appropriate associations would
excite only the idea of beauty. So, a mode of dress obviously intended
for driving strikes us as _outré_ in a parlor; and a parlor dress would
no less shock our eyes on horseback. In short, the course of this
principle through all varieties of form can easily be perceived. Besides
appropriateness to time, place, and circumstances, there is
appropriateness to age, position, and character. This is the foundation
of all our ideas of professional propriety in costume. One would not
like to see a clergyman in his external air and appointments resembling
a gentleman of the turf; one would not wish a refined and modest scholar
to wear the outward air of a fast fellow, or an aged and venerable
statesman to appear with all the peculiarities of a young dandy. The
flowers, feathers, and furbelows which a light-hearted young girl of
seventeen embellishes by the airy grace with which she wears them, are
simply ridiculous when transferred to the toilet of her serious,
well-meaning mamma, who bears them about with an anxious face, merely
because a loquacious milliner has assured her, with many protestations,
that it is the fashion, and the only thing remaining for her to do.

"There are, again, modes of dress in themselves very beautiful and very
striking, which are peculiarly adapted to theatrical representation and
to pictures, but the adoption of which as a part of unprofessional
toilet produces a sense of incongruity. A mode of dress may be in
perfect taste on the stage, that would be absurd in an evening party,
absurd in the street, absurd, in short, everywhere else.

"Now you come to my first objection to our present American toilet,--its
being to a very great extent _inappropriate_ to our climate, to our
habits of life and thought, and to the whole structure of ideas on which
our life is built. What we want, apparently, is some court of inquiry
and adaptation that shall pass judgment on the fashions of other
countries, and modify them to make them a graceful expression of our own
national character, and modes of thinking and living. A certain class of
women in Paris at this present hour makes the fashions that rule the
feminine world. They are women who live only for the senses, with as
utter and obvious disregard of any moral or intellectual purpose to be
answered in living as a paroquet or a macaw. They have no family ties;
love, in its pure domestic sense, is an impossibility in their lot;
religion in any sense is another impossibility; and their whole
intensity of existence, therefore, is concentrated on the question of
sensuous enjoyment, and that personal adornment which is necessary to
secure it. When the great, ruling country in the world of taste and
fashion has fallen into such a state that the virtual leaders of fashion
are women of this character, it is not to be supposed that the fashions
emanating from them will be of a kind well adapted to express the ideas,
the thoughts, the state of society, of a great Christian democracy such
as ours ought to be.

"What is called, for example, the Pompadour style of dress, so much in
vogue of late, we can see to be perfectly adapted to the kind of
existence led by dissipated women, whose life is one revel of
excitement; and who, never proposing to themselves any intellectual
employment or any domestic duty, can afford to spend three or four hours
every day under the hands of a waiting-maid, in alternately tangling and
untangling their hair. Powder, paint, gold-dust and silver-dust,
pomatums, cosmetics, are all perfectly appropriate where the ideal of
life is to keep up a false show of beauty after the true bloom is wasted
by dissipation. The woman who never goes to bed till morning, who never
even dresses herself, who never takes a needle in her hand, who never
goes to church, and never entertains one serious idea of duty of any
kind, when got up in Pompadour style, has, to say the truth, the good
taste and merit of appropriateness. Her dress expresses just what she
is,--all false, all artificial, all meretricious and unnatural; no part
or portion of her from which it might be inferred what her Creator
originally designed her to be.

"But when a nice little American girl, who has been brought up to
cultivate her mind, to refine her taste, to care for her health, to be a
helpful daughter and a good sister, to visit the poor and teach in
Sunday schools; when a good, sweet, modest little puss of this kind
combs all her pretty hair backward till it is one mass of frowzy
confusion; when she powders, and paints under her eyes; when she adopts,
with eager enthusiasm, every _outré_, unnatural fashion that comes from
the most dissipated foreign circles,--she is in bad taste, because she
does not represent either her character, her education, or her good
points. She looks like a second-rate actress, when she is, in fact, a
most thoroughly respectable, estimable, lovable little girl, and on the
way, as we poor fellows fondly hope, to bless some one of us with her
tenderness and care in some nice home in the future.

"It is not the fashion in America for young girls to have
waiting-maids,--in foreign countries it is the fashion. All this
meretricious toilet--so elaborate, so complicated, and so contrary to
nature--must be accomplished, and is accomplished, by the busy little
fingers of each girl for herself; and so it seems to be very evident
that a style of hair-dressing which it will require hours to
disentangle, which must injure and in time ruin the natural beauty of
the hair, ought to be one thing which a well-regulated court of inquiry
would reject in our American fashions.

"Again, the genius of American, life is for simplicity and absence of
ostentation. We have no parade of office; our public men wear no robes,
no stars, garters, collars, &c.; and it would, therefore, be in good
taste in our women to cultivate simple styles of dress. Now I object to
the present fashions, as adopted from France, that they are flashy and
theatrical. Having their origin with a community whose senses are
blunted, drugged, and deadened with dissipation and ostentation, they
reject the simpler forms of beauty, and seek for startling effects, for
odd and unexpected results. The contemplation of one of our fashionable
churches, at the hour when its fair occupants pour forth, gives one a
great deal of surprise. The toilet there displayed might have been in
good keeping among showy Parisian women in an opera-house; but even
their original inventors would have been shocked at the idea of carrying
them into a church. The rawness of our American mind as to the subject
of propriety in dress is nowhere more shown than in the fact that no
apparent distinction is made between church and opera-house in the
adaptation of attire. Very estimable, and, we trust, very religious
young women sometimes enter the house of God in a costume which makes
their utterance of the words of the litany and the acts of prostrate
devotion in the service seem almost burlesque. When a brisk little
creature comes into a pew with hair frizzed till it stands on end in a
most startling manner, rattling strings of beads and bits of tinsel,
mounting over all some pert little hat with a red or green feather
standing saucily upright in front, she may look exceedingly pretty and
_piquante_; and, if she came there for a game of croquet or a
tableau-party, would be all in very good taste; but as she comes to
confess that she is a miserable sinner, that she has done the things she
ought not to have done and left undone the things she ought to have
done,--as she takes upon her lips most solemn and tremendous words,
whose meaning runs far beyond life into a sublime eternity,--there is a
discrepancy which would be ludicrous if it were not melancholy.

"One is apt to think, at first view, that St. Jerome was right in
saying,


     'She who comes in glittering veil
     To mourn her frailty, still is frail.'


But St. Jerome was in the wrong, after all; for a flashy, unsuitable
attire in church is not always a mark of an undevout or entirely worldly
mind; it is simply a mark of a raw, uncultivated taste. In Italy, the
ecclesiastical law prescribing a uniform black dress for the churches
gives a sort of education to European ideas of propriety in toilet,
which prevents churches from being made theatres for the same kind of
display which is held to be in good taste at places of public amusement.
It is but justice to the inventors of Parisian fashions to say, that,
had they ever had the smallest idea of going to church and Sunday
school, as our good girls do, they would immediately have devised
toilets appropriate to such exigencies. If it were any part of their
plan of life to appear statedly in public to confess themselves
'miserable sinners,' we should doubtless have sent over here the design
of some graceful penitential habit, which would give our places of
worship a much more appropriate air than they now have. As it is, it
would form a subject for such a court of inquiry and adaptation as we
have supposed, to draw a line between the costume of the theatre and the
church.

"In the same manner, there is a want of appropriateness in the costume
of our American women, who display in the street promenade a style of
dress and adornment originally intended for showy carriage drives in
such great exhibition grounds as the Bois de Boulogne. The makers of
Parisian fashions are not generally walkers. They do not, with all their
extravagance, have the bad taste to trail yards of silk and velvet over
the mud and dirt of a pavement, or promenade the street in a costume so
pronounced and striking as to draw the involuntary glance of every eye;
and the showy toilets displayed on the _pavé_ by American young women
have more than once exposed them to misconstruction in the eyes of
foreign observers.

"Next to appropriateness, the second requisite to beauty in dress I take
to be unity of effect. In speaking of the arrangement of rooms in the
'House and Home Papers,' I criticised some apartments wherein were many
showy articles of furniture, and much expense had been incurred,
because, with all this, there was no _unity of result_. The carpet was
costly, and in itself handsome; the paper was also in itself handsome
and costly; the tables and chairs also in themselves very elegant; and
yet, owing to a want of any unity of idea, any grand harmonizing tint of
color, or method of arrangement, the rooms had a jumbled, confused air,
and nothing about them seemed particularly pretty or effective. I
instanced rooms where thousands of dollars had been spent, which,
because of this defect, never excited admiration; and others in which
the furniture was of the cheapest description, but which always gave
immediate and universal pleasure. The same rule holds good in dress. As
in every apartment, so in every toilet, there should be one ground tone
or dominant color, which should rule all the others, and there should be
a general style of idea to which everything should be subjected.

"We may illustrate the effect of this principle in a very familiar case.
It is generally conceded that the majority of women look better in
mourning than they do in their ordinary apparel; a comparatively plain
person looks almost handsome in simple black. Now why is this? Simply
because mourning requires a severe uniformity of color and idea, and
forbids the display of that variety of colors and objects which go to
make up the ordinary female costume, and which very few women have such
skill in using as to produce really beautiful effects.

"Very similar results have been attained by the Quaker costume, which,
in spite of the quaint severity of the forms to which it adhered, has
always had a remarkable degree of becomingness, because of its
restriction to a few simple colors and to the absence of distracting
ornament.

"But the same effect which is produced in mourning or the Quaker costume
may be preserved in a style of dress admitting color and ornamentation.
A dress may have the richest fulness of color, and still the tints may
be so chastened and subdued as to produce the impression of a severe
simplicity. Suppose, for example, a golden-haired blonde chooses for the
ground-tone of her toilet a deep shade of purple, such as affords a good
background for the hair and complexion. The larger draperies of the
costume being of this color, the bonnet may be of a lighter shade of the
same, ornamented with lilac hyacinths, shading insensibly towards
rose-color. The effect of such a costume is simple, even though there be
much ornament, because it is ornament artistically disposed towards a
general result.

"A dark shade of green being chosen as the ground-tone of a dress, the
whole costume may, in like manner, be worked up through lighter and
brighter shades of green, in which rose-colored flowers may appear, with
the same impression of simple appropriateness that is made by the pink
blossom over the green leaves of a rose. There have been times in France
when the study of color produced artistic effects in costume worthy of
attention, and resulted in styles of dress of real beauty. But the
present corrupted state of morals there has introduced a corrupt taste
in dress; and it is worthy of thought that the decline of moral purity
in society is often marked by the deterioration of the sense of artistic
beauty. Corrupt and dissipated social epochs produce corrupt styles of
architecture and corrupt styles of drawing and painting, as might easily
be illustrated by the history of art. When the leaders of society have
blunted their finer perceptions by dissipation and immorality, they are
incapable of feeling the beauties which come from delicate concords and
truly artistic combinations. They verge towards barbarism, and require
things that are strange, odd, dazzling, and peculiar to captivate their
jaded senses. Such we take to be the condition of Parisian society now.
The tone of it is given by women who are essentially impudent and
vulgar, who override and overrule, by the mere brute force of opulence
and luxury, women of finer natures and moral tone. The court of France
is a court of adventurers, of _parvenus_; and the palaces, the toilets,
the equipage, the entertainments, of the mistresses outshine those of
the lawful wives. Hence comes a style of dress which is in itself
vulgar, ostentatious, pretentious, without simplicity, without unity,
seeking to dazzle by strange combinations and daring contrasts.

"Now, when the fashions emanating from such a state of society come to
our country, where it has been too much the habit to put on and wear,
without dispute and without inquiry, any or everything that France
sends, the results produced are often things to make one wonder. A
respectable man, sitting quietly in church or other public assembly, may
be pardoned sometimes for indulging a silent sense of the ridiculous in
the contemplation of the forest of bonnets which surround him, as he
humbly asks himself the question, Were these meant to cover the head, to
defend it, or to ornament it? and if they are intended for any of these
purposes, how?

"I confess, to me nothing is so surprising as the sort of things which
well-bred women serenely wear on their heads with the idea that they are
ornaments. On my right hand sits a good-looking girl with a thing on her
head which seems to consist mostly of bunches of grass, straws, with a
confusion of lace, in which sits a draggled bird, looking as if the cat
had had him before the lady. In front of her sits another, who has a
glittering confusion of beads swinging hither and thither from a jaunty
little structure of black and red velvet. An anxious-looking matron
appears under the high eaves of a bonnet with a gigantic crimson rose
crushed down into a mass of tangled hair. She is _ornamented_! she has
no doubt about it.

"The fact is, that a style of dress which allows the use of everything
in heaven above or earth beneath requires more taste and skill in
disposition than falls to the lot of most of the female sex to make it
even tolerable. In consequence, the flowers, fruits, grass, hay, straw,
oats, butterflies, beads, birds, tinsel, streamers, jinglers, lace,
bugles, crape, which seem to be appointed to form a covering for the
female head, very often appear in combinations so singular, and the
results, taken in connection with all the rest of the costume, are such,
that we really think the people who usually assemble in a Quaker
meeting-house are, with their entire absence of ornament, more
becomingly attired than the majority of our public audiences. For if one
considers his own impression after having seen an assemblage of women
dressed in Quaker costume, he will find it to be, not of a confusion of
twinkling finery, but of many fair, sweet _faces_, of charming,
nice-looking _women_, and not of articles of dress. Now this shows that
the severe dress, after all, has better answered the true purpose of
dress, in setting forth the woman, than our modern costume, where the
woman is but one item in a flying mass of colors and forms, all of which
distract attention from the faces they are supposed to adorn. The dress
of the Philadelphian ladies has always been celebrated for its elegance
of effect, from the fact, probably, that the early Quaker parentage of
the city formed the eye and the taste of its women for uniform and
simple styles of color, and for purity and chastity of lines. The most
perfect toilets that have ever been achieved in America have probably
been those of the class familiarly called the gay Quakers,--children of
Quaker families, who, while abandoning the strict rules of the sect, yet
retain their modest and severe reticence, relying on richness of
material, and soft, harmonious coloring, rather than striking and
dazzling ornament.

"The next source of beauty in dress is the impression of truthfulness
and reality. It is a well-known principle of the fine arts, in all their
branches, that all shams and mere pretences are to be rejected,--a truth
which Ruskin has shown with the full lustre of his many-colored
prose-poetry. As stucco pretending to be marble, and graining pretending
to be wood, are in false taste in building, so false jewelry and cheap
fineries of every kind are in bad taste; so also is powder instead of
natural complexion, false hair instead of real, and flesh-painting of
every description. I have even the hardihood to think and assert, in the
presence of a generation whereof not one woman in twenty wears her own
hair, that the simple, short-cropped locks of Rosa Bonheur are in a more
beautiful style of hair-dressing than the most elaborate edifice of
curls, rats, and waterfalls that is erected on any fair head
now-a-days."

"O Mr. Crowfield! you hit us all now," cried several voices.

"I know it, girls,--I know it. I admit that you are all looking very
pretty; but I do maintain that you are none of you doing yourselves
justice, and that Nature, if you would only follow her, would do better
for you than all these elaborations. A short crop of your own hair, that
you could brush out in ten minutes every morning, would have a more
real, healthy beauty than the elaborate structures which cost you hours
of time, and give you the headache besides. I speak of the short
crop,--to put the case at the very lowest figure,--for many of you have
lovely hair of different lengths, and susceptible of a variety of
arrangements, if you did not suppose yourself obliged to build after a
foreign pattern, instead of following out the intentions of the great
Artist who made you.

"Is it necessary absolutely that every woman and girl should look
exactly like every other one? There are women whom Nature makes with
wavy or curly hair: let them follow her. There are those whom she makes
with soft and smooth locks, and with whom crinkling and craping is only
a sham. They look very pretty with it, to be sure; but, after all, is
there but one style of beauty? and might they not look prettier in
cultivating the style which Nature seemed to have intended for them?

"As to the floods of false jewelry, glass beads, and tinsel finery which
seem to be sweeping over the toilet of our women, I must protest that
they are vulgarizing the taste, and having a seriously bad effect on the
delicacy of artistic perception. It is almost impossible to manage such
material and give any kind of idea of neatness or purity; for the least
wear takes away their newness. And of all disreputable things, tumbled,
rumpled, and tousled finery is the most disreputable. A simple white
muslin, that can come fresh from the laundry every week, is, in point of
real taste, worth any amount of spangled tissues. A plain straw bonnet,
with only a ribbon across it, is in reality in better taste than
rubbishy birds or butterflies, or tinsel ornaments.

"Finally, girls, don't dress at haphazard; for dress, so far from being
a matter of small consequence, is in reality one of the fine arts,--so
far from trivial, that each country ought to have a style of its own,
and each individual such a liberty of modification of the general
fashion as suits and befits her person, her age, her position in life,
and the kind of character she wishes to maintain.

"The only motive in toilet which seems to have obtained much as yet
among young girls is the very vague impulse to look 'stylish,'--a desire
which must answer for more vulgar dressing than one would wish to see.
If girls would rise above this, and desire to express by their dress the
attributes of true ladyhood, nicety of eye, fastidious neatness, purity
of taste, truthfulness, and sincerity of nature, they might form, each
one for herself, a style having its own individual beauty, incapable of
ever becoming common and vulgar.

"A truly trained taste and eye would enable a lady to select from the
permitted forms of fashion such as might be modified to her purposes,
always remembering that simplicity is safe, that to attempt little, and
succeed, is better than to attempt a great deal, and fail.

"And now, girls, I will finish by reciting to you the lines old Ben
Jonson addressed to the pretty girls of his time, which form an
appropriate ending to my remarks.


                     'Still to be dressed
     As you were going to a feast;
     Still to be powdered, still perfumed;
     Lady, it is to be presumed,
     Though art's hid causes are not found,
     All is not sweet, all is not sound.

     'Give me a look, give me a face,
     That makes simplicity a grace,--
     Robes loosely flowing, hair as free:
     Such sweet neglect more taketh me
     Than all the adulteries of art,
     That strike my eyes, but not my heart.'"



XI.

THE CATHEDRAL.


"I am going to build a cathedral one of these days," said I to my wife,
as I sat looking at the slant line of light made by the afternoon sun on
our picture of the Cathedral of Milan.

"That picture is one of the most poetic things you have among your house
ornaments," said Rudolph. "Its original is the world's chief beauty,--a
tribute to religion such as Art never gave before and never can
again,--as much before the Pantheon, as the Alps, with their virgin
snows and glittering pinnacles, are above all temples made with hands.
Say what you will, those Middle Ages that you call Dark had a glory of
faith that never will be seen in our days of cotton-mills and Manchester
prints. Where will you marshal such an army of saints as stands in
yonder white-marble forest, visibly transfigured and glorified in that
celestial Italian air? Saintship belonged to the mediæval Church; the
heroism of religion has died with it."

"That's just like one of your assertions, Rudolph," said I. "You might
as well say that Nature has never made any flowers since Linnæus shut up
his herbarium. We have no statues and pictures of modern saints, but
saints themselves, thank God, have never been wanting. 'As it was in the
beginning, is now, and ever shall be--'"

"But what about your cathedral?" said my wife.

"O yes!--my cathedral, yes. When my stocks in cloud-land rise, I'll
build a cathedral larger than Milan's; and the men, but more
particularly the _women_, thereon, shall be those who have done even
more than St. Paul tells of in the saints of old, who 'subdued kingdoms,
wrought righteousness, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge
of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight,
turned to flight the armies of the aliens.' I am not now thinking of
Florence Nightingale, nor of the host of women who have been walking
worthily in her footsteps, but of nameless saints of more retired and
private state,--domestic saints, who have tended children not their own
through whooping-cough and measles, and borne the unruly whims of
fretful invalids,--stocking-darning, shirt-making saints,--saints who
wore no visible garment of hair-cloth, bound themselves with no belts of
spikes and nails, yet in their inmost souls were marked and seared with
the red cross of a life-long self-sacrifice,--saints for whom the
mystical terms _self-annihilation_ and _self-crucifixion_ had a real and
tangible meaning, all the stronger because their daily death was marked
by no outward sign. No mystical rites consecrated them; no organ-music
burst forth in solemn rapture to welcome them; no habit of their order
proclaimed to themselves and the world that they were the elect of
Christ, the brides of another life: but small eating cares, daily
prosaic duties, the petty friction of all the littleness and all the
inglorious annoyances of every day, were as dust that hid the beauty and
grandeur of their calling even from themselves; they walked unknown even
to their households, unknown even to their own souls; but when the Lord
comes to build his New Jerusalem, we shall find many a white stone with
a new name thereon, and the record of deeds and words which only He that
seeth in secret knows. Many a humble soul will be amazed to find that
the seed it sowed in such weakness, in the dust of daily life, has
blossomed into immortal flowers under the eye of the Lord.

"When I build my cathedral, _that_ woman," I said, pointing to a small
painting by the fire, "shall be among the first of my saints. You see
her there, in an every-day dress-cap with a mortal thread-lace border,
and with a very ordinary worked collar, fastened by a visible and
terrestrial breastpin. There is no nimbus around her head, no sign of
the cross upon her breast; her hands are clasped on no crucifix or
rosary. Her clear, keen, hazel eye looks as if it could sparkle with
mirthfulness, as in fact it could; there are in it both the subtile
flash of wit and the subdued light of humor; and though the whole face
smiles, it has yet a certain decisive firmness that speaks the soul
immutable in good. That woman shall be the first saint in my cathedral,
and her name shall be recorded as Saint Esther. What makes saintliness
in my view, as distinguished from ordinary goodness, is a certain
quality of magnanimity and greatness of soul that brings life within the
circle of the heroic. To be really great in little things, to be truly
noble and heroic in the insipid details of every-day life, is a virtue
so rare as to be worthy of canonization,--and this virtue was hers. New
England Puritanism must be credited with the making of many such women.
Severe as was her discipline, and harsh as seems now her rule, we have
yet to see whether women will be born of modern systems of tolerance and
indulgence equal to those grand ones of the olden times whose places now
know them no more. The inconceivable austerity and solemnity with which
Puritanism invested this mortal life, the awful grandeur of the themes
which it made household words, the sublimity of the issues which it
hung upon the commonest acts of our earthly existence, created
characters of more than Roman strength and greatness; and the good men
and women of Puritan training excelled the saints of the Middle Ages, as
a soul fully developed intellectually, educated to closest thought, and
exercised in reasoning, is superior to a soul great merely through
impulse and sentiment.

"My earliest recollections of Aunt Esther, for so our saint was known,
were of a bright-faced, cheerful, witty, quick-moving little middle-aged
person, who came into our house like a good fairy whenever there was a
call of sickness or trouble. If an accident happened in the great
roistering family of eight or ten children, (and when was not something
happening to some of us?) and we were shut up in a sick-room, then duly
as daylight came the quick step and cheerful face of Aunt Esther,--not
solemn and lugubrious like so many sick-room nurses, but with a
never-failing flow of wit and story that could beguile even the most
doleful into laughing at their own afflictions. I remember how a fit of
the quinsy--most tedious of all sicknesses to an active child--was
gilded and glorified into quite a _fête_ by my having Aunt Esther all to
myself for two whole days, with nothing to do but amuse me. She charmed
me into smiling at the very pangs which had made me weep before, and of
which she described her own experiences in a manner to make me think
that, after all, the quinsy was something with an amusing side to it.
Her knowledge of all sorts of medicines, gargles, and alleviatives, her
perfect familiarity with every canon and law of good nursing and
tending, was something that could only have come from long experience in
those good old New England days when there were no nurses recognized as
a class in the land, but when watching and the care of the sick were
among those offices of Christian life which the families of a
neighborhood reciprocally rendered each other. Even from early youth she
had obeyed a special vocation as sister of charity in many a sick-room,
and, with the usual keen intelligence of New England, had widened her
powers of doing good by the reading of medical and physiological works.
Her legends of nursing in those days of long typhus-fever and other
formidable and protracted forms of disease were to our ears quite
wonderful, and we regarded her as a sort of patron saint of the
sick-room. She seemed always so cheerful, so bright, and so devoted,
that it never occurred to us youngsters to doubt that she enjoyed, above
all things, being with us, waiting on us all day, watching over us by
night, telling us stories, and answering, in her lively and always
amusing and instructive way, that incessant fire of questions with which
a child persecutes a grown person.

"Sometimes, as a reward of goodness, we were allowed to visit her in
her own room, a neat little parlor in the neighborhood, whose windows
looked down a hillside on one hand, under the boughs of an apple
orchard, where daisies and clover and bobolinks always abounded in
summer time, and, on the other, faced the street, with a green yard
flanked by one or two shady elms between them and the street. No nun's
cell was ever neater, no bee's cell ever more compactly and carefully
arranged; and to us, familiar with the confusion of a great family of
little ones, there was something always inviting about its stillness,
its perfect order, and the air of thoughtful repose that breathed over
it. She lived there in perfect independence, doing, as it was her
delight to do, every office of life for herself. She was her own cook,
her own parlor and chamber maid, her own laundress; and very faultless
the cooking, washing, ironing, and care of her premises were. A slice of
Aunt Esther's gingerbread, one of Aunt Esther's cookies, had, we all
believed, certain magical properties such as belonged to no other mortal
mixture. Even a handful of walnuts that were brought from the depths of
her mysterious closet had virtues in our eyes such as no other walnuts
could approach. The little shelf of books that hung suspended by cords
against her wall was sacred in our regard; the volumes were like no
other books; and we supposed that she derived from them those stores of
knowledge on all subjects which she unconsciously dispensed among
us,--for she was always telling us something of metals, or minerals, or
gems, or plants, or animals, which awakened our curiosity, stimulated
our inquiries, and, above all, led us to wonder where she had learned it
all. Even the slight restrictions which her neat habits imposed on our
breezy and turbulent natures seemed all quite graceful and becoming. It
was right, in our eyes, to cleanse our shoes on scraper and mat with
extra diligence, and then to place a couple of chips under the heels of
our boots when we essayed to dry our feet at her spotless hearth. We
marvelled to see our own faces reflected in a thousand smiles and winks
from her bright brass andirons,--such andirons we thought were seen on
earth in no other place,--and a pair of radiant brass candlesticks, that
illustrated the mantel-piece, were viewed with no less respect.

"Aunt Esther's cat was a model for all cats,--so sleek, so intelligent,
so decorous and well-trained, always occupying exactly her own cushion
by the fire, and never transgressing in one iota the proprieties
belonging to a cat of good breeding. She shared our affections with her
mistress, and we were allowed as a great favor and privilege, now and
then, to hold the favorite on our knees, and stroke her satin coat to a
smoother gloss.

"But it was not for cats alone that she had attractions. She was in
sympathy and fellowship with everything that moved and lived; knew every
bird and beast with a friendly acquaintanceship. The squirrels that
inhabited the trees in the front-yard were won in time by her
blandishments to come and perch on her window-sills, and thence, by
trains of nuts adroitly laid, to disport themselves on the shining
cherry tea-table that stood between the windows; and we youngsters used
to sit entranced with delight as they gambolled and waved their feathery
tails in frolicsome security, eating rations of gingerbread and bits of
seed-cake with as good a relish as any child among us.

"The habits, the rights, the wrongs, the wants, and the sufferings of
the animal creation formed the subject of many an interesting
conversation with her; and we boys, with the natural male instinct of
hunting, trapping, and pursuing, were often made to pause in our career,
remembering her pleas for the dumb things which could not speak for
themselves.

"Her little hermitage was the favorite resort of numerous friends. Many
of the young girls who attended the village academy made her
acquaintance, and nothing delighted her more than that they should come
there and read to her the books they were studying, when her superior
and wide information enabled her to light up and explain much that was
not clear to the immature students.

"In her shady retirement, too, she was a sort of Egeria to certain men
of genius, who came to read to her their writings, to consult her in
their arguments, and to discuss with her the literature and politics of
the day,--through all which her mind moved with an equal step, yet with
a sprightliness and vivacity peculiarly feminine.

"Her memory was remarkably retentive, not only of the contents of books,
but of all that great outlying fund of anecdote and story which the
quaint and earnest New England life always supplied. There were pictures
of peculiar characters, legends of true events stranger than romance,
all stored in the cabinets of her mind; and these came from her lips
with the greater force because the precision of her memory enabled her
to authenticate them with name, date, and circumstances of vivid
reality. From that shadowy line of incidents which marks the twilight
boundary between the spiritual world and the present life she drew
legends of peculiar clearness, but invested with the mysterious charm
which always dwells in that uncertain region; and the shrewd flash of
her eye, and the keen, bright smile with which she answered the
wondering question, 'What _do_ you suppose it was?' or, 'What could it
have been?' showed how evenly rationalism in her mind kept pace with
romance.

"The retired room in which she thus read, studied, thought, and surveyed
from afar the whole world of science and literature, and in which she
received friends and entertained children, was perhaps the dearest and
freshest spot to her in the world. There came a time, however, when the
neat little independent establishment was given up, and she went to
associate herself with two of her nieces in keeping house for a
boarding-school of young girls. Here her lively manners and her gracious
interest in the young made her a universal favorite, though the cares
she assumed broke in upon those habits of solitude and study which
formed her delight. From the day that she surrendered this independency
of hers, she had never, for more than a score of years, a home of her
own, but filled the trying position of an accessory in the home of
others. Leaving the boarding-school, she became the helper of an invalid
wife and mother in the early nursing and rearing of a family of young
children,--an office which leaves no privacy and no leisure. Her bed was
always shared with some little one; her territories were exposed to the
constant inroads of little pattering feet; and all the various
sicknesses and ailments of delicate childhood made absorbing drafts upon
her time.

"After a while she left New England with the brother to whose family
she devoted herself. The failing health of the wife and mother left more
and more the charge of all things in her hands; servants were poor, and
all the appliances of living had the rawness and inconvenience which in
those days attended Western life. It became her fate to supply all other
people's defects and deficiencies. Wherever a hand failed, there must
her hand be. Whenever a foot faltered, she must step into the ranks. She
was the one who thought for and cared for and toiled for all, yet made
never a claim that any one should care for her.

"It was not till late in my life that I became acquainted with the deep
interior sacrifice, the constant self-abnegation, which all her life
involved. She was born with a strong, vehement, impulsive nature,--a
nature both proud and sensitive,--a nature whose tastes were passions,
whose likings and whose aversions were of the most intense and positive
character. Devoted as she always seemed to the mere practical and
material, she had naturally a deep romance and enthusiasm of temperament
which exceeded all that can be written in novels. It was chiefly owing
to this that a home and a central affection of her own were never hers.
In her early days of attractiveness, none who would have sought her
could meet the high requirements of her ideality; she never saw her
hero,--and so never married. Family cares, the tending of young
children, she often confessed, were peculiarly irksome to her. She had
the head of a student, a passionate love for the world of books. A
Protestant convent, where she might devote herself without interruption
to study, was her ideal of happiness. She had, too, the keenest
appreciation of poetry, of music, of painting, and of natural scenery.
Her enjoyment in any of these things was intensely vivid whenever, by
chance, a stray sunbeam of the kind darted across the dusty path of her
life; yet in all these her life was a constant repression. The eagerness
with which she would listen to any account from those more fortunate
ones who had known these things, showed how ardent a passion was
constantly held in check. A short time before her death, talking with a
friend who had visited Switzerland, she said, with great feeling: 'All
my life my desire to visit the beautiful places of this earth has been
so intense, that I cannot but hope that after my death I shall be
permitted to go and look at them.'

"The completeness of her self-discipline may be gathered from the fact,
that no child could ever be brought to believe she had not a natural
fondness for children, or that she found the care of them burdensome. It
was easy to see that she had naturally all those particular habits,
those minute pertinacities in respect to her daily movements and the
arrangement of all her belongings, which would make the meddling,
intrusive demands of infancy and childhood peculiarly hard for her to
meet. Yet never was there a pair of toddling feet that did not make free
with Aunt Esther's room, never a curly head that did not look up, in
confiding assurance of a welcome smile, to her bright eyes. The
inconsiderate and never-ceasing requirements of children and invalids
never drew from her other than a cheerful response; and to my mind there
is more saintship in this than in the private wearing of any number of
hair-cloth shirts or belts lined with spikes.

"In a large family of careless, noisy children there will be constant
losing of thimbles and needles and scissors; but Aunt Esther was always
ready, without reproach, to help the careless and the luckless. Her
things, so well kept and so treasured, she was willing to lend, with
many a caution and injunction it is true, but also with a relish of
right good-will. And, to do us justice, we generally felt the sacredness
of the trust, and were more careful of her things than of our own. If a
shade of sewing-silk were wanting, or a choice button, or a bit of braid
or tape, Aunt Esther cheerfully volunteered something from her well-kept
stores, not regarding the trouble she made herself in seeking the key,
unlocking the drawer, and searching out in bag or parcel just the
treasure demanded. Never was more perfect precision, or more perfect
readiness to accommodate others.

"Her little income, scarcely reaching a hundred dollars yearly, was
disposed of with a generosity worthy a fortune. One tenth was sacredly
devoted to charity, and a still further sum laid by every year for
presents to friends. No Christmas or New Year ever came round that Aunt
Esther, out of this very tiny fund, did not find something for children
and servants. Her gifts were trifling in value, but well timed,--a ball
of thread-wax, a paper of pins, a pincushion,--something generally so
well chosen as to show that she had been running over our needs, and
noting what to give. She was no less gracious as receiver than as giver.
The little articles that we made for her, or the small presents that we
could buy out of our childish resources, she always declared were
exactly what she needed; and she delighted us by the care she took of
them and the value she set upon them.

"Her income was a source of the greatest pleasure to her, as maintaining
an independence without which she could not have been happy. Though she
constantly gave, to every family in which she lived, services which no
money could repay, it would have been the greatest trial to her not to
be able to provide for herself. Her dress, always that of a true
gentlewoman,--refined, quiet, and neat,--was bought from this restricted
sum, and her small travelling expenses were paid out of it. She abhorred
anything false or flashy: her caps were trimmed with _real_ thread-lace,
and her silk dresses were of the best quality, perfectly well made and
kept; and, after all, a little sum always remained over in her hands for
unforeseen exigencies.

"This love of independence was one of the strongest features of her
life, and we often playfully told her that her only form of selfishness
was the monopoly of saintship,--that she who gave so much was not
willing to allow others to give to her,--that she who made herself
servant of all was not willing to allow others to serve her.

"Among the trials of her life must be reckoned much ill-health; borne,
however, with such heroic patience that it was not easy to say when the
hand of pain was laid upon her. She inherited, too, a tendency to
depression of spirits, which at times increased to a morbid and
distressing gloom. Few knew or suspected these sufferings, so completely
had she learned to suppress every outward manifestation that might
interfere with the happiness of others. In her hours of depression she
resolutely forbore to sadden the lives of those around her with her own
melancholy, and often her darkest moods were so lighted up and adorned
with an outside show of wit and humor, that those who had known her
intimately were astonished to hear that she had ever been subject to
depression.

"Her truthfulness of nature amounted almost to superstition. From her
promise once given she felt no change of purpose could absolve her; and
therefore rarely would she give it absolutely, for she _could not_ alter
the thing that had gone forth from her lips. Our belief in the certainty
of her fulfilling her word was like our belief in the immutability of
the laws of nature. Whoever asked her got of her the absolute truth on
every subject, and, when she had no good thing to say, her silence was
often truly awful. When anything mean or ungenerous was brought to her
knowledge, she would close her lips resolutely; but the flash in her
eyes showed what she would speak were speech permitted. In her last days
she spoke to a friend of what she had suffered from the strength of her
personal antipathies. 'I thank God,' she said, 'that I believe at last I
have overcome all that too, and that there has not been, for some years,
any human being toward whom I have felt a movement of dislike.'

"The last year of her life was a constant discipline of unceasing pain,
borne with that fortitude which could make her an entertaining and
interesting companion even while the sweat of mortal agony was starting
from her brow. Her own room she kept as a last asylum, to which she
would silently retreat when the torture became too intense for the
repression of society, and there alone, with closed doors, she wrestled
with her agony. The stubborn independence of her nature took refuge in
this final fastness; and she prayed only that she might go down to death
with the full ability to steady herself all the way, needing the help of
no other hand.

"The ultimate struggle of earthly feeling came when this proud
self-reliance was forced to give way, and she was obliged to leave
herself helpless in the hands of others. 'God requires that I should
give up my last form of self-will,' she said; 'now I have resigned
_this_, perhaps he will let me go home.'

"In a good old age, Death, the friend, came and opened the door of this
mortal state, and a great soul, that had served a long apprenticeship to
little things, went forth into the joy of its Lord; a life of
self-sacrifice and self-abnegation passed into a life of endless rest."

"But," said Rudolph, "I rebel at this life of self-abnegation and
self-sacrifice. I do not think it the duty of noble women, who have
beautiful natures and enlarged and cultivated tastes, to make
themselves the slaves of the sick-room and nursery."

"Such was not the teaching of our New England faith," said I. "Absolute
unselfishness,--the death of self,--such were its teachings, and such as
Esther's the characters it made. 'Do the duty nearest thee,' was the
only message it gave to 'women with a mission'; and from duty to duty,
from one self-denial to another, they rose to a majesty of moral
strength impossible to any form of mere self-indulgence. It is of souls
thus sculptured and chiselled by self-denial and self-discipline that
the living temple of the perfect hereafter is to be built. The pain of
the discipline is short, but the glory of the fruition is eternal."



XII.

THE NEW YEAR.

[1865.]


Here comes the First of January, Eighteen Hundred and Sixty-Five, and we
are all settled comfortably into our winter places, with our winter
surroundings and belongings; all cracks and openings are calked and
listed, the double windows are in, the furnace dragon in the cellar is
ruddy and in good liking, sending up his warming respirations through
every pipe and register in the house; and yet, though an artificial
summer reigns everywhere, like bees, we have our swarming-place,--in my
library. There is my chimney-corner, and my table permanently
established on one side of the hearth; and each of the female genus has,
so to speak, pitched her own winter-tent within sight of the blaze of my
camp-fire. I discerned to-day that Jennie had surreptitiously
appropriated one of the drawers of my study-table to knitting-needles
and worsted; and wicker work-baskets and stands of various heights and
sizes seem to be planted here and there for permanence among the
bookcases. The canary-bird has a sunny window, and the plants spread out
their leaves and unfold their blossoms as if there were no ice and snow
in the street, and Rover makes a hearth-rug of himself in winking
satisfaction in front of my fire, except when Jennie is taken with a fit
of discipline, when he beats a retreat, and secretes himself under my
table.

Peaceable, ah, how peaceable, home and quiet and warmth in winter! And
how, when we hear the wind whistle, we think of you, O our brave
brothers, our saviors and defenders, who for our sake have no home but
the muddy camp, the hard pillow of the barrack, the weary march, the
uncertain fare,--you, the rank and file, the thousand unnoticed ones,
who have left warm fires, dear wives, loving little children, without
even the hope of glory or fame,--without even the hope of doing anything
remarkable or perceptible for the cause you love,--resigned only to fill
the ditch or bridge the chasm over which your country shall walk to
peace and joy! Good men and true, brave unknown hearts, we salute you,
and feel that we, in our soft peace and security, are not worthy of you!
When we think of you, our simple comforts seem luxuries all too good for
us, who give so little when you give all!

But there are others to whom from our bright homes, our cheerful
firesides, we would fain say a word, if we dared.

Think of a mother receiving a letter with such a passage as this in it!
It is extracted from one we have just seen, written by a private in the
army of Sheridan, describing the death of a private. "He fell instantly,
gave a peculiar smile and look, and then closed his eyes. We laid him
down gently at the foot of a large tree. I crossed his hands over his
breast, closed his eyelids down, but the smile was still on his face. I
wrapt him in his tent, spread my pocket-handkerchief over his face,
wrote his name on a piece of paper, and pinned it on his breast, and
there we left him: we could not find pick or shovel to dig a grave."
There it is!--a history that is multiplying itself by hundreds daily,
the substance of what has come to so many homes, and must come to so
many more before the great price of our ransom is paid!

What can we say to you, in those many, many homes where the light has
gone out forever?--you, O fathers, mothers, wives, sisters, haunted by a
name that has ceased to be spoken on earth,--you, for whom there is no
more news from the camp, no more reading of lists, no more tracing of
maps, no more letters, but only a blank, dead silence! The battle-cry
goes on, but for you it is passed by! the victory comes, but, oh, never
more to bring him back to you! your offering to this great cause has
been made, and been taken; you have thrown into it _all_ your living,
even all that you had, and from henceforth your house is left unto you
desolate! O ye watchers of the cross, ye waiters by the sepulchre, what
can be said to you? We could almost extinguish our own home-fires, that
seem too bright when we think of your darkness; the laugh dies on our
lip, the lamp burns dim through our tears, and we seem scarcely worthy
to speak words of comfort, lest we seem as those who mock a grief they
cannot know.

But is there no consolation? Is it nothing to have had such a treasure
to give, and to have given it freely for the noblest cause for which
ever battle was set,--for the salvation of your country, for the freedom
of all mankind? Had he died a fruitless death, in the track of common
life, blasted by fever, smitten or rent by crushing accident, then might
his most precious life seem to be as water spilled upon the ground; but
now it has been given for a cause and a purpose worthy even the anguish
of your loss and sacrifice. He has been counted worthy to be numbered
with those who stood with precious incense between the living and the
dead, that the plague which was consuming us might be stayed. The blood
of these young martyrs shall be the seed of the future church of
liberty, and from every drop shall spring up flowers of healing. O
widow! O mother! blessed among bereaved women! there remains to you a
treasure that belongs not to those who have lost in any other wise,--the
power to say, "He died for his country." In all the good that comes of
this anguish you shall have a right and share by virtue of this
sacrifice. The joy of freedmen bursting from chains, the glory of a
nation new-born, the assurance of a triumphant future for your country
and the world,--all these become yours by the purchase-money of that
precious blood.

Besides this, there are other treasures that come through sorrow, and
sorrow alone. There are celestial plants of root so long and so deep
that the land must be torn and furrowed, ploughed up from the very
foundation, before they can strike and flourish; and when we see how
God's plough is driving backward and forward and across this nation,
rending, tearing up tender shoots, and burying soft wild-flowers, we ask
ourselves, What is He going to plant?

Not the first year, nor the second, after the ground has been broken up,
does the purpose of the husbandman appear. At first we see only what is
uprooted and ploughed in,--the daisy drabbled, and the violet
crushed,--and the first trees planted amid the unsightly furrows stand
dumb and disconsolate, irresolute in leaf, and without flower or fruit.
Their work is under the ground. In darkness and silence they are
putting forth long fibres, searching hither and thither under the black
soil for the strength that years hence shall burst into bloom and
bearing.

What is true of nations is true of individuals. It may seem now winter
and desolation with you. Your hearts have been ploughed and harrowed and
are now frozen up. There is not a flower left, not a blade of grass, not
a bird to sing,--and it is hard to believe that any brighter flowers,
any greener herbage, shall spring up than those which have been torn
away; and yet there will. Nature herself teaches you to-day. Out-doors
nothing but bare branches and shrouding snow; and yet you know that
there is not a tree that is not patiently holding out at the end of its
boughs next year's buds, frozen indeed, but unkilled. The rhododendron
and the lilac have their blossoms all ready, wrapped in cere-cloth,
waiting in patient faith. Under the frozen ground the crocus and the
hyacinth and the tulip hide in their hearts the perfect forms of future
flowers. And it is even so with you: your leaf-buds of the future are
frozen, but not killed; the soil of your heart has many flowers under it
cold and still now, but they will yet come up and bloom.

The dear old book of comfort tells of no present healing for sorrow.
_No_ chastening for the present seemeth joyous, but grievous, but
_afterwards_ it yieldeth peaceable fruits of righteousness. We, as
individuals, as a nation, need to have faith in that AFTERWARDS. It is
sure to come,--sure as spring and summer to follow winter.

There is a certain amount of suffering which must follow the rending of
the great cords of life, suffering which is natural and inevitable; it
cannot be argued down; it cannot be stilled; it can no more be soothed
by any effort of faith and reason than the pain of a fractured limb, or
the agony of fire on the living flesh. All that we can do is to brace
ourselves to bear it, calling on God, as the martyrs did in the fire,
and resigning ourselves to let it burn on. We must be willing to suffer
since God so wills. There are just so many waves to go over us, just so
many arrows of stinging thought to be shot into our soul, just so many
faintings and sinkings and revivings only to suffer again, belonging to
and inherent in our portion of sorrow; and there is a work of healing
that God has placed in the hands of Time alone.

Time heals all things at last; yet it depends much on us in our
suffering, whether time shall send us forth healed, indeed, but maimed
and crippled and callous, or whether, looking to the great Physician of
sorrows, and coworking with him, we come forth stronger and fairer even
for our wounds.

We call ourselves a Christian people, and the peculiarity of
Christianity is that it is a worship and doctrine of sorrow. The five
wounds of Jesus, the instruments of the passion, the cross, the
sepulchre,--these are its emblems and watchwords. In thousands of
churches, amid gold and gems and altars fragrant with perfume, are seen
the crown of thorns, the nails, the spear, the cup of vinegar mingled
with gall, the sponge that could not slake that burning death-thirst;
and in a voice choked with anguish the Church in many lands and divers
tongues prays from age to age, "By thine agony and bloody sweat, by thy
cross and passion, by thy precious death and burial!"--mighty words of
comfort, whose meaning reveals itself only to souls fainting in the cold
death-sweat of mortal anguish! They tell all Christians that by
uttermost distress alone was the Captain of their salvation made perfect
as a Saviour.

Sorrow brings us into the true unity of the Church,--that unity which
underlies all external creeds, and unites all hearts that have suffered
deeply enough to know that when sorrow is at its utmost there is but one
kind of sorrow, and but one remedy. What matter, _in extremis_, whether
we be called Romanist, or Protestant, or Greek, or Calvinist?

We suffer, and Christ suffered; we die, and Christ died; he conquered
suffering and death, he rose and lives and reigns,--and we shall
conquer, rise, live, and reign. The hours on the cross were long, the
thirst was bitter, the darkness and horror real,--_but they ended_.
After the wail, "My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" came the calm, "It
is finished"; pledge to us all that our "It is finished" shall come
also.

Christ arose, fresh, joyous, no more to die; and it is written, that,
when the disciples were gathered together in fear and sorrow, he stood
in the midst of them, and showed unto them his hands and his side; and
then were they glad. Already had the healed wounds of Jesus become
pledges of consolation to innumerable thousands; and those who, like
Christ, have suffered the weary struggles, the dim horrors of the
cross,--who have lain, like him, cold and chilled in the hopeless
sepulchre,--if his spirit wakes them to life, shall come forth with
healing power for others who have suffered and are suffering.

Count the good and beautiful ministrations that have been wrought in
this world of need and labor, and how many of them have been wrought by
hands wounded and scarred, by hearts that had scarcely ceased to bleed!

How many priests of consolation is God now ordaining by the fiery
imposition of sorrow! how many Sisters of the Bleeding Heart, Daughters
of Mercy, Sisters of Charity, are receiving their first vocation in
tears and blood!

The report of every battle strikes into some home; and heads fall low,
and hearts are shattered, and only God sees the joy that is set before
them, and that shall come out of their sorrow. He sees our morning at
the same moment that He sees our night,--sees us comforted, healed,
risen to a higher life, at the same moment that He sees us crushed and
broken in the dust; and so, though tenderer than we, He bears our great
sorrows for the joy that is set before us.

After the Napoleonic wars had desolated Europe, the country was, like
all countries after war, full of shattered households, of widows and
orphans and homeless wanderers. A nobleman of Silesia, the Baron von
Kottwitz, who had lost his wife and all his family in the reverses and
sorrows of the times, found himself alone in the world, which looked
more dreary and miserable through the multiplying lenses of his own
tears. But he was one of those whose heart had been quickened in its
death anguish by the resurrection voice of Christ; and he came forth to
life and comfort. He bravely resolved to do all that one man could to
lessen the great sum of misery. He sold his estates in Silesia, bought
in Berlin a large building that had been used as barracks for the
soldiers, and, fitting it up in plain, commodious apartments, formed
there a great family-establishment, into which he received the wrecks
and fragments of families that had been broken up by the war,--orphan
children, widowed and helpless women, decrepit old people, disabled
soldiers. These he made his family, and constituted himself their father
and chief. He abode with them, and cared for them as a parent. He had
schools for the children; the more advanced he put to trades and
employments; he set up a hospital for the sick; and for all he had the
priestly ministrations of his own Christ-like heart. The celebrated
Professor Tholuck, one of the most learned men of modern Germany, was an
early _protégé_ of the old Baron's, who, discerning his talents, put him
in the way of a liberal education. In his earlier years, like many
others of the young who play with life, ignorant of its needs, Tholuck
piqued himself on a lordly scepticism with regard to the commonly
received Christianity, and even wrote an essay to prove the superiority
of the Mohammedan to the Christian religion. In speaking of his
conversion, he says,--"What moved me was no argument, nor any spoken
reproof, but simply that divine image of the old Baron walking before my
soul. That life was an argument always present to me, and which I never
could answer; and so I became a Christian." In the life of this man we
see the victory over sorrow. How many with means like his, when
desolated by like bereavements, have lain coldly and idly gazing on the
miseries of life, and weaving around themselves icy tissues of doubt
and despair,--doubting the being of a God, doubting the reality of a
Providence, doubting the divine love, imbittered and rebellious against
the power which they could not resist, yet to which they would not
submit! In such a chill heart-freeze lies the danger of sorrow. And it
is a mortal danger. It is a torpor that must be resisted, as the man in
the whirling snows must bestir himself, or he will perish. The apathy of
melancholy must be broken by an effort of religion and duty. The
stagnant blood must be made to flow by active work, and the cold hand
warmed by clasping the hands outstretched towards it in sympathy or
supplication. One orphan child taken in, to be fed, clothed, and
nurtured, may save a heart from freezing to death: and God knows this
war is making but too many orphans!

It is easy to subscribe to an orphan asylum, and go on in one's despair
and loneliness. Such ministries may do good to the children who are
thereby saved from the street, but they impart little warmth and comfort
to the giver. One destitute child housed, taught, cared for, and tended
personally, will bring more solace to a suffering heart than a dozen
maintained in an asylum. Not that the child will probably prove an
angel, or even an uncommonly interesting mortal. It is a prosaic work,
this bringing-up of children, and there can be little rosewater in it.
The child may not appreciate what is done for him, may not be
particularly grateful, may have disagreeable faults, and continue to
have them after much pains on your part to eradicate them,--and yet it
is a fact, that to redeem one human being from destitution and ruin,
even in some homely every-day course of ministrations, is one of the
best possible tonics and alternatives to a sick and wounded spirit.

But this is not the only avenue to beneficence which the war opens. We
need but name the service of hospitals, the care and education of the
freedmen,--for these are charities that have long been before the eyes
of the community, and have employed thousands of busy hands: thousands
of sick and dying beds to tend, a race to be educated, civilized, and
Christianized, surely were work enough for one age; and yet this is not
all. War shatters everything, and it is hard to say what in society will
not need rebuilding and binding up and strengthening anew. Not the least
of the evils of war are the vices which a great army engenders wherever
it moves,--vices peculiar to military life, as others are peculiar to
peace. The poor soldier perils for us not merely his body, but his soul.
He leads a life of harassing and exhausting toil and privation, of
violent strain on the nervous energies, alternating with sudden
collapse, creating a craving for stimulants, and endangering the
formation of fatal habits. What furies and harpies are those that follow
the army, and that seek out the soldier in his tent, far from home,
mother, wife, and sister, tired, disheartened, and tempt him to forget
his troubles in a momentary exhilaration, that burns only to chill and
to destroy! Evil angels are always active and indefatigable, and there
must be good angels enlisted to face them; and here is employment for
the slack hand of grief. Ah, we have known mothers bereft of sons in
this war, who have seemed at once to open wide their hearts, and to
become mothers to every brave soldier in the field. They have lived only
to work,--and in place of one lost, their sons have been counted by
thousands.

And not least of all the fields for exertion and Christian charity
opened by this war is that presented by womanhood. The war is
abstracting from the community its protecting and sheltering elements,
and leaving the helpless and dependent in vast disproportion. For years
to come, the average of lone women will be largely increased; and the
demand, always great, for some means by which they may provide for
themselves, in the rude jostle of the world, will become more urgent and
imperative.

Will any one sit pining away in inert grief, when two streets off are
the midnight dance-houses, where girls of twelve, thirteen, and
fourteen are being lured into the way of swift destruction? How many of
these are daughters of soldiers who have given their hearts' blood for
us and our liberties!

Two noble women of the Society of Friends have lately been taking the
gauge of suffering and misery in our land, visiting the hospitals at
every accessible point, pausing in our great cities, and going in their
purity to those midnight orgies where mere children are being trained
for a life of vice and infamy. They have talked with these poor
bewildered souls, entangled in toils as terrible and inexorable as those
of the slave-market, and many of whom are frightened and distressed at
the life they are beginning to lead, and earnestly looking for the means
of escape. In the judgment of these holy women, at least one third of
those with whom they have talked are children so recently entrapped, and
so capable of reformation, that there would be the greatest hope in
efforts for their salvation. While such things are to be done in our
land, is there any reason why any one should die of grief? One soul
redeemed will do more to lift the burden of sorrow than all the
blandishments and diversions of art, all the alleviations of luxury, all
the sympathy of friends.

In the Roman Catholic Church there is an order of women called the
Sisters of the Good Shepherd, who have renounced the world to devote
themselves, their talents and property, entirely to the work of seeking
out and saving the fallen of their own sex; and the wonders worked by
their self-denying love on the hearts and lives of even the most
depraved are credible only to those who know that the Good Shepherd
Himself ever lives and works with such spirits engaged in such a work. A
similar order of women exists in New York, under the direction of the
Episcopal Church, in connection with St. Luke's Hospital; and another in
England, who tend the "House of Mercy" of Clewer.

Such benevolent associations offer objects of interest to that class
which most needs something to fill the void made by bereavement. The
wounds of grief are less apt to find a cure in that rank of life where
the sufferer has wealth and leisure. The _poor_ widow, whose husband was
her all, _must_ break the paralysis of grief. The hard necessities of
life are her physicians; they send her out to unwelcome, yet friendly
toil, which, hard as it seems, has yet its healing power. But the
sufferer surrounded by the appliances of wealth and luxury may long
indulge the baleful apathy, and remain in the damp shadows of the valley
of death till strength and health are irrecoverably lost. How
Christ-like is the thought of a woman, graceful, elegant, cultivated,
refined, whose voice has been trained to melody, whose fingers can make
sweet harmony with every touch, whose pencil and whose needle can awake
the beautiful creations of art, devoting all these powers to the work of
charming back to the sheepfold those wandering and bewildered lambs whom
the Good Shepherd still calls his own! Jenny Lind, once, when she sang
at a concert for destitute children, exclaimed in her enthusiasm, "Is it
not beautiful that I can sing so?" And so may not every woman feel, when
her graces and accomplishments draw the wanderer, and charm away evil
demons, and soothe the sore and sickened spirit, and make the Christian
fold more attractive than the dizzy gardens of false pleasure?

In such associations, and others of kindred nature, how many of the
stricken and bereaved women of our country might find at once a home and
an object in life! Motherless hearts might be made glad in a better and
higher motherhood; and the stock of earthly life that seemed cut off at
the root, and dead past recovery, may be grafted upon with a shoot from
the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.

So the beginning of this eventful 1865, which finds us still treading
the wine-press of our great conflict, should bring with it a serene and
solemn hope, a joy such as those had with whom in the midst of the fiery
furnace there walked one like unto the Son of God.

The great affliction that has come upon our country is so evidently the
purifying chastening of a Father, rather than the avenging anger of a
Destroyer, that all hearts may submit themselves in a solemn and holy
calm still to bear the burning that shall make us clean from dross and
bring us forth to a higher national life. Never, in the whole course of
our history, have such teachings of the pure abstract Right been so
commended and forced upon us by Providence. Never have public men been
so constrained to humble themselves before God, and to acknowledge that
there is a Judge that ruleth in the earth. Verily his inquisition for
blood has been strict and awful; and for every stricken household of the
poor and lowly hundreds of households of the oppressor have been
scattered. The land where the family of the slave was first annihilated,
and the negro, with all the loves and hopes of a man, was proclaimed to
be a beast to be bred and sold in market with the horse and the
swine,--that land, with its fair name, Virginia, has been made a
desolation so signal, so wonderful, that the blindest passer-by cannot
but ask for what sin so awful a doom has been meted out. The prophetic
visions of Nat Turner, who saw the leaves prop blood and the land
darkened, have been fulfilled. The work of justice which he predicted is
being executed to the uttermost.

But when this strange work of judgment and justice is consummated, when
our country, through a thousand battles and ten thousands of precious
deaths, shall have come forth from this long agony, redeemed and
regenerated, then God himself shall return and dwell with us, and the
Lord God shall wipe away all tears from all faces, and the rebuke of his
people shall he utterly take away.



XIII.

THE NOBLE ARMY OF MARTYRS.


When the first number of the Chimney-Corner appeared, the snow lay white
on the ground, the buds on the trees were closed and frozen, and beneath
the hard frost-bound soil lay buried the last year's flower-roots,
waiting for a resurrection.

So in our hearts it was winter,--a winter of patient suffering and
expectancy,--a winter of suppressed sobs, of inward bleedings,--a cold,
choked, compressed anguish of endurance, for how long and how much God
only could tell us.

The first paper of the Chimney-Corner, as was most meet and fitting, was
given to those homes made sacred and venerable by the cross of
martyrdom,--by the chrism of a great sorrow. That Chimney-Corner made
bright by home firelight seemed a fitting place for a solemn act of
reverent sympathy for the homes by whose darkness our homes had been
preserved bright, by whose emptiness our homes had been kept full, by
whose losses our homes had been enriched; and so we ventured with
trembling to utter these words of sympathy and cheer to those whom God
had chosen to this great sacrifice of sorrow.

The winter months passed with silent footsteps, spring returned, and the
sun, with ever-waxing power, unsealed the snowy sepulchre of buds and
leaves,--birds reappeared, brooks were unchained, flowers filled every
desolate dell with blossoms and perfume. And with returning spring, in
like manner, the chill frost of our fears and of our dangers melted
before the breath of the Lord. The great war, which lay like a mountain
of ice upon our hearts, suddenly dissolved and was gone. The fears of
the past were as a dream when one awaketh, and now we scarce realize our
deliverance. A thousand hopes are springing up everywhere, like
spring-flowers in the forest. All is hopefulness, all is bewildering
joy.

But this our joy has been ordained to be changed into a wail of sorrow.
The kind hard hand, that held the helm so steadily in the desperate
tossings of the storm, has been stricken down just as we entered
port,--the fatherly heart that bore all our sorrows can take no earthly
part in our joys. His were the cares, the watchings, the toils, the
agonies, of a nation in mortal struggle; and God, looking down, was so
well pleased with his humble faithfulness, his patient continuance in
well-doing, that earthly rewards and honors seemed all too poor for him,
so he reached down and took him to immortal glories. "Well done, good
and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord!"

Henceforth the place of Abraham Lincoln is first among that noble army
of martyrs who have given their blood to the cause of human freedom. The
eyes are yet too dim with tears that would seek calmly to trace out his
place in history. He has been a marvel and a phenomenon among statesmen,
a new kind of ruler in the earth. There has been something even
unearthly about his extreme unselfishness, his utter want of personal
ambition, personal self-valuation, personal feeling.

The most unsparing criticism, denunciation, and ridicule never moved him
to a single bitter expression, never seemed to awaken in him a single
bitter thought. The most exultant hour of party victory brought no
exultation to him; he accepted power not as an honor, but as a
responsibility; and when, after a severe struggle, that power came a
second time into his hands, there was something preternatural in the
calmness of his acceptance of it. The first impulse seemed to be a
disclaimer of all triumph over the party that had strained their utmost
to push him from his seat, and then a sober girding up of his loins to
go on with the work to which he was appointed. His last inaugural was
characterized by a tone so peculiarly solemn and free from earthly
passion, that it seems to us now, who look back on it in the light of
what has followed, as if his soul had already parted from earthly
things, and felt the powers of the world to come. It was not the formal
state-paper of the chief of a party in an hour of victory, so much as
the solemn soliloquy of a great soul reviewing its course under a vast
responsibility, and appealing from all earthly judgments to the tribunal
of Infinite Justice. It was the solemn clearing of his soul for the
great sacrament of Death, and the words that he quoted in it with such
thrilling power were those of the adoring spirits that veil their faces
before the throne: "Just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints!"

Among the rich treasures which this bitter struggle has brought to our
country, not the least is the moral wealth which has come to us in the
memory of our martyrs. Thousands of men, women, and children too, in
this great conflict, have "endured tortures, not accepting deliverance,"
counting not their lives dear unto them in the holy cause; and they have
done this as understanding and thoughtfully as the first Christians who
sealed their witness with their blood.

Let us in our hour of deliverance and victory record the solemn vow,
that our right hand shall forget her cunning before we forget them and
their sufferings,--that our tongue shall cleave to the roof of our mouth
if we remember them not above our chief joy.

Least suffering among that noble band were those who laid down their
lives on the battle-field, to whom was given a brief and speedy passage
to the victor's meed. The mourners who mourn for such as these must give
place to another and more august band, who have sounded lower deeps of
anguish, and drained bitterer drops out of our great cup of trembling.

The narrative of the lingering tortures, indignities, and sufferings of
our soldiers in Rebel prisons has been something so harrowing that we
have not dared to dwell upon it. We have been helplessly dumb before it,
and have turned away our eyes from what we could not relieve, and
therefore could not endure to look upon. But now, when the nation is
called to strike the great and solemn balance of justice, and to decide
measures of final retribution, it behooves us all that we should at
least watch with our brethren for one hour, and take into our account
what they have been made to suffer for us.

Sterne said he could realize the miseries of captivity only by setting
before him the image of a miserable captive with hollow cheek and wasted
eye, notching upon a stick, day after day, the weary record of the
flight of time. So we can form a more vivid picture of the sufferings of
our martyrs from one simple story than from any general description; and
therefore we will speak right on, and tell one story which might stand
as a specimen of what has been done and suffered by thousands.

In the town of Andover, Massachusetts, a boy of sixteen, named Walter
Raymond, enlisted among our volunteers. He was under the prescribed age,
but his eager zeal led him to follow the footsteps of an elder brother
who had already enlisted; and the father of the boy, though these two
were all the sons he had, instead of availing himself of his legal right
to withdraw him, indorsed the act in the following letter addressed to
his Captain:--


     "ANDOVER, MASS., August 15, 1862.

     "CAPTAIN HUNT,--My eldest son has enlisted in your company. I send
     you his younger brother. He is, and always has been, in perfect
     health, of more than the ordinary power of endurance, honest,
     truthful, and courageous. I doubt not you will find him on trial
     all you can ask, except his age, and that I am sorry to say is only
     sixteen; yet if our country needs his service, take him.

     "Your obedient servant,

     "SAMUEL RAYMOND."


The boy went forth to real service, and to successive battles at
Kingston, at Whitehall, and at Goldsborough; and in all did his duty
bravely and faithfully. He met the temptations and dangers of a
soldier's life with the pure-hearted firmness of a Christian child,
neither afraid nor ashamed to remember his baptismal vows, his
Sunday-school teachings, and his mother's wishes.

He had passed his promise to his mother against drinking and smoking,
and held it with a simple, childlike steadiness. When in the midst of
malarious swamps, physicians and officers advised the use of tobacco.
The boy writes to his mother: "A great many have begun to smoke, but I
shall not do it without your permission, though I think it does a great
deal of good."

In his leisure hours, he was found in his tent reading; and before
battle he prepared his soul with the beautiful psalms and collects for
the day, as appointed by his church, and writes with simplicity to his
friends,--

"I prayed God that he would watch over me, and if I fell, receive my
soul in heaven; and I also prayed that I might not forget the cause I
was fighting for, and turn my back in fear."

After nine months' service, he returned with a soldier's experience,
though with a frame weakened by sickness in a malarious region. But no
sooner did health and strength return than he again enlisted, in the
Massachusetts cavalry service, and passed many months of constant
activity and adventure, being in some severe skirmishes, and battles
with that portion of Sheridan's troops who approached nearest to
Richmond, getting within a mile and a half of the city. At the close of
this raid, so hard had been the service, that only thirty horses were
left out of seventy-four in his company, and Walter and two others were
the sole survivors among eight who occupied the same tent.

On the 16th of August, Walter was taken prisoner in a skirmish; and from
the time that this news reached his parents, until the 18th of the
following March, they could ascertain nothing of his fate. A general
exchange of prisoners having been then effected, they learned that he
had died on Christmas Day in Salisbury Prison, of hardship and
privation.

What these hardships were is, alas! easy to be known from those too
well-authenticated accounts published by our government of the treatment
experienced by our soldiers in the Rebel prisons.

Robbed of clothing, of money, of the soldier's best friend, his
sheltering blanket,--herded in shivering nakedness on the bare
ground,--deprived of every implement by which men of energy and spirit
had soon bettered their lot,--forbidden to cut in adjacent forests
branches for shelter, or fuel to cook their coarse food,--fed on a pint
of corn-and-cob-meal per day, with some slight addition of molasses or
rancid meat,--denied all mental resources, all letters from home, all
writing to friends,--these men were cut off from the land of the living
while yet they lived,--they were made to dwell in darkness as those that
have been long dead.

By such slow, lingering tortures,--such weary, wasting anguish and
sickness of body and soul,--it was the infernal policy of the Rebel
government either to wring from them an abjuration of their country, or
by slow and steady draining away of the vital forces to render them
forever unfit to serve in her armies.

Walter's constitution bore four months of this usage, when death came to
his release. A fellow-sufferer, who was with him in his last hours,
brought the account to his parents.

Through all his terrible privations, even the lingering pains of slow
starvation, Walter preserved his steady simplicity, his faith in God,
and unswerving fidelity to the cause for which he was suffering.

When the Rebels had kept the prisoners fasting for days, and then
brought in delicacies to tempt their appetite, hoping thereby to induce
them to desert their flag, he only answered, "I would rather be carried
out in that dead-cart!"

When told by some that he must steal from his fellow-sufferers, as many
did, in order to relieve the pangs of hunger, he answered, "No, I was
not brought up to that!" And so when his weakened system would no longer
receive the cob-meal which was his principal allowance, he set his face
calmly towards death.

He grew gradually weaker and weaker and fainter and fainter, and at last
disease of the lungs set in, and it became apparent that the end was at
hand.

On Christmas Day, while thousands among us were bowing in our garlanded
churches or surrounding festive tables, this young martyr lay on the
cold, damp ground, watched over by his destitute friends, who sought to
soothe his last hours with such scanty comforts as their utter poverty
afforded,--raising his head on the block of wood which was his only
pillow, and moistening his brow and lips with water, while his life
ebbed slowly away, until about two o'clock, when he suddenly roused
himself, stretched out his hand, and, drawing to him his dearest friend
among those around him, said, in a strong, clear voice:--

"I am going to die. Go tell my father I am ready to die, for I die for
God and my country,"--and, looking up with a triumphant smile, he passed
to the reward of the faithful.

And now, men and brethren, if this story were a single one, it were
worthy to be had in remembrance; but Walter Raymond is not the only
noble-hearted boy or man that has been slowly tortured and starved and
done to death, by the fiendish policy of Jefferson Davis and Robert
Edmund Lee.

No,--wherever this simple history shall be read, there will arise
hundreds of men and women who will testify, "Just so died my son!" "So
died my brother!" "So died my husband!" "So died my father!"

The numbers who have died in these lingering tortures are to be counted,
not by hundreds, or even by thousands, but by tens of thousands.

And is there to be no retribution for a cruelty so vast, so aggravated,
so cowardly and base? And if there is retribution, on whose head should
it fall? Shall we seize and hang the poor, ignorant, stupid, imbruted
semi-barbarians who were set as jailers to keep these hells of torment
and inflict these insults and cruelties? or shall we punish the
educated, intelligent chiefs who were the head and brain of the
iniquity?

If General Lee had been determined _not_ to have prisoners starved or
abused, does any one doubt that he could have prevented these things?
Nobody doubts it. His raiment is red with the blood of his helpless
captives. Does any one doubt that Jefferson Davis, living in ease and
luxury in Richmond, knew that men were dying by inches in filth and
squalor and privation in the Libby Prison, within bowshot of his own
door? Nobody doubts it. It was his will, his deliberate policy, thus to
destroy those who fell into his hands. The chief of a so-called
Confederacy, who could calmly consider among his official documents
incendiary plots for the secret destruction of ships, hotels, and cities
full of peaceable people, is a chief well worthy to preside over such
cruelties; but his only just title is President of Assassins, and the
whole civilized world should make common cause against such a miscreant.

There has been, on both sides of the water, much weak, ill-advised talk
of mercy and magnanimity to be extended to these men, whose crimes have
produced a misery so vast and incalculable. The wretches who have
tortured the weak and the helpless, who have secretly plotted to
supplement, by dastardly schemes of murder and arson, that strength
which failed them in fair fight, have been commiserated as brave
generals and unfortunate patriots, and efforts are made to place them
within the comities of war.

It is no feeling of personal vengeance, but a sense of the eternal
fitness of things, that makes us rejoice, when criminals, who have so
outraged every sentiment of humanity, are arrested and arraigned and
awarded due retribution at the bar of their country's justice. There are
crimes against God and human nature which it is treason alike to God and
man not to punish; and such have been the crimes of the traitors who
were banded together in Richmond.

If there be those whose hearts lean to pity, we can show them where all
the pity of their hearts may be better bestowed than in deploring the
woes of assassins. Let them think of the thousands of fathers, mothers,
wives, sisters, whose lives will be forever haunted with memories of the
slow tortures in which their best and bravest were done to death.

The sufferings of those brave men are ended. Nearly a hundred thousand
are sleeping in those sad, nameless graves,--and may their rest be
sweet! "There the wicked cease from troubling, there the weary are at
rest. There the prisoners rest together; they hear not the voice of the
oppressor." But, O ye who have pity to spare, spare it for the
broken-hearted friends, who, to life's end, will suffer over and over
all that their dear ones endured. Pity the mothers who hear their sons'
faint calls in dreams, who in many a weary night-watch see them pining
and wasting, and yearn with a life-long, unappeasable yearning to have
been able to soothe those forsaken, lonely death-beds. Oh, man or woman,
if you have pity to spare, spend it not on Lee or Davis,--spend it on
their victims, on the thousands of living hearts which these men of sin
have doomed to an anguish that will end only with life!

Blessed are the mothers whose sons passed in battle,--a quick, a
painless, a glorious death! Blessed in comparison,--yet we weep for
them. We rise up and give place at sight of their mourning-garments. We
reverence the sanctity of their sorrow. But before this other sorrow we
are dumb in awful silence. We find no words with which to console such
grief. We feel that our peace, our liberties, have been bought at a
fearful price, when we think of the sufferings of our martyred soldiers.
Let us think of them. It was for us they bore hunger and cold and
nakedness. They might have had food and raiment and comforts, if they
would have deserted our cause,--and they did not. Cut off from all
communication with home or friends or brethren,--dragging on the weary
months, apparently forgotten,--still they would not yield, they would
not fight against us; and so for us at last they died.

What return can we make them? Peace has come, and we take up all our
blessings restored and brightened; but if we look, we shall see on every
blessing a bloody cross.

When three brave men broke through the ranks of the enemy, to bring to
King David a draught from the home-well, for which he longed, the
generous-hearted prince would not drink it, but poured it out as an
offering before the Lord; for he said, "Is not this the blood of the men
that went in jeopardy of their lives?"

Thousands of noble hearts have been slowly consumed to secure to us the
blessings we are rejoicing in.

We owe a duty to these our martyrs,--the only one we can pay.

In every place, honored by such a history and example, let a monument be
raised at the public expense, on which shall be inscribed the names of
those who died for their country, and the manner of their death.

Such monuments will educate our young men in heroic virtue, and keep
alive to future ages the flame of patriotism. And thus, too, to the
aching heart of bereaved love shall be given the only consolation of
which its sorrows admit, in the reverence which is paid to its lost
loved ones.


THE END.


Cambridge: Stereotyped and Printed by Welch, Bigelow, & Co.





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that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
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can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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