Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

washed, brightened, put in place, and stayed in place; the floors, when cleaned, remained clean ; the work was always done, and not doing; and every afternoon the young lady sat neatly dressed in her own apartment, either quietly writing lettors to her betrothed, or sewing on her bridal outfit. Such is the result of employing those who have been brought up to do their own work. That tall, fine-looking girl, for aught we know, may yet be mistress of a fine house on Fifth Avenue; and if she is, she will, we fear, prove rather an exacting mistress to Irish Biddy and Bridget; but she will never be threatened by her cook and chambermaid, after the first one or two have tried the experiment.

Having written thus far on my article, I laid it aside till evening, when, as usual, I was saluted by the inquiry, " Has papa been writing anything to-day ?" and then followed loud petitions to hear it; and so I read as far, reader, as you have.

"Well, papa," said Jennie, "what arc you meaning to make out there? Do you really think it would be best for us all to try to go back to that old style of living you describe? After all, you have shown only the dark side of an establishment with servants, and the bright side of the other way of living. Mamma does not have such trouble with her servants; matters have always gone smoothly in our family; and if we are not such wonderful girls as those you describe, yet we may make pretty good housekeepers on the modern system, after all."

"You don't know all the troubles your mamma has had in your day," said my wife. "I have often, in the course of my family - history, seen the day when I have heartily wished for the strength and ability to manage my household matters as my grandmother of notable memory managed hers. But I fear that those remarkable women of the olden times are like the ancient painted glass, — the art of making them is lost; my mother was less than her mother, and I am less than my mother."

"And Marianne and I come out entirely at the little end of the horn," said Jennie, laughing; " yet I wash the breakfast-cups and dust the parlors, and have always fancied myself a notable housekeeper."

"It is just as I told you," I said. "Haman nature is always the same. Nobody ever is or does more than circumstances force him to be and da Those remarkable women of old were made by circumstances. There were, comparatively speaking, no servants to be had, and so children were trained to habits of industry and mechanical adroitness from the cradle, and every household process was reduced to the very minimum of labor. Every step required in 8 process was counted, every movement calculated; and she who took ten steps, when one would do, lost her reputation for ' faculty.' Certainly such an early drill was of use in developing the health and the bodily powers, as well as in giving precision to the practical mental faculties. All household economies were arranged with equal niceness in those thoughtful minds. A trained housekeeper knew just how many sticks of hickory of a certain size were required to heat her oven, and how many of each different kind of wood. She knew by a sort of intuition just what kinds of food would yield the most palatable nutriment with the least outlay of accessories iu cooking. She knew to a minute the time when each article must go into and be withdrawn from her oven; and if she could only lie in her chamber and direct, she could guide an intelligent child through the processes with mathematical certainty. It is impossible, however, that anything but early training and long experience can produce these results, and it is earnestly to be wished that the grandmothers of New England had only written down their experiences for our children; they would have been a mine of maxims and traditions, better than any other traditions of the elders which we know of."

"One thing I know," said Marianne,— "and that is, I wish I had been brought up so, and knew all that I should, and had all the strength and adroitness that those women had. I should not dread to begin housekeeping, as I now do. I should feel myself independent. I should feel that I knew how to direct my servants, and what it was reasonable and proper to expect of them; and then, as you say, I should n't be dependent on all their whims and caprices of temper. I dread those household storms, of all things."

Silently pondering these anxieties of the young expectant housekeeper, I resumed my pen, and concluded my paper as follows.

In this country, our democratic institutions have removed the superincumbent pressure which in the. Old World confines the servants to a regular orbit. They come here feeling that this is somehow a land of liberty, and with very dim and confused notions of what liberty is. They are for the most part the raw, untrained Irish peasantry, and the wonder is, that, with all the unreasoning heats and prejudices of the Celtic blood, all the necessary ignorance and rawness, there should be the measure of comfort and success there is in our domestic arrangements. But, so long as things are so, there will be constant changes and interruptions in every domestic establishment, and constantly recurring interregnums when the mistress must put her own hand to the work, whether the hand be a trained or an untrained one. As matters now are, the young housekeeper takes life at the hardest. She has very little strength, — no experience to teach her how to save her strength. She knows nothing experimentally of the simplest processes necessary to keep her family comfortably fed and clothed; and she has a way of looking at all these things which makes them particularly hard and distasteful to her. She does not escape being obliged to do house-work at intervals, but she does it in a weak, blundering, confused way, that makes it twice as hard and disagreeable as it need be.

Vol. XIII. 49

Now what I have to say is, that, if every young woman learned to do housework and cultivated her practical faculties in early life, she would, in the first place, be much more likely to keep her servants, and, in the second place, if she lost them temporarily, would avoid all that wear and tear of the nervous system which comes from constant ill-success in those departments on which family health and temper mainly depend. This is one of the peculiarities of our American life which require a peculiar training. Why not face it sensibly?

The second thing I have to say is, that our land is now full of motorpathic institutions to which women are sent at great expense to have hired operators stretch and exercise their inactive muscles. They lie for hours to have their feet twigged, their arms flexed, and all the different muscles of the body worked for them, because they are so flaccid and torpid that the powers of life do not go on. Would it not be quite as cheerful and less expensive a process, if young girls from early life developed the muscles in sweeping, dusting, ironing, rubbing furniture, and all the multiplied domestic processes which our grandmothers knew of? A woman who did all these, and diversified the intervals with spinning on the great and little wheel, never came to need the gymnasties of Dio Lewis or of the Swedish motorpathist, which really are a necessity now. Does it not seem poor economy to pay servants for letting our muscles grow feeble, and then to pay operators to exercise them for us? I will venture to say that our grandmothers in a week went over every movement that any gymnast has invented, and went over them to some productive purpose too.

Lastly, my paper will not have been in vain, if those ladies who have learned and practise the invaluable accomplishment of doing their own work will know their own happiness and dignity, and properly value their great acquisition, even though it may have been forced upon them by circumstances.

SHAKSPEARE.
Apbil 23, 1864.

"Who • -biiuis our Shakspeare from that realm unknown,

Beyond the storm-vexed islands of the deep,
Where Genoa's deckless caravels were blown?

Her twofold Saint's-day let our England keep;
Shall warring aliens share her holy task?"
The Old-World echoes ask.

O land of Shakspeare! ours with all thy past,
Till these last years that make the sea so wide,

Think not the jar of battle's trumpet-blast
Has dulled our aching sense to joyous pride

In every noble word thy sons bequeathed
The air our fathers breathed I

War-wasted, haggard, panting from the strife,

We turn to other days and far-off lands,
Live o'er in dreams the Poet's faded life,

Come with fresh lilies in our fevered hands
To wreathe his bust, and scatter purple flowers, —
Not his the need, but ours l

We call those poets who are first to mark
Through earth's dull mist the coming of the dawn, —

Who see in twilight's gloom the first pale spark,
While others only note that day is gone;

For him the Lord of light the curtain rent
That veils the firmament.

The greatest for its greatness is half known,

Stretching beyond our narrow quadrant-lines, —

As in that world of Nature all outgrown
Where Calaveras lifts his awful pines,

And cast from Mariposa's mountain-wall
Nevada's cataracts fall.

Yet heaven's remotest orb is partly ours,

Throbbing its radiance like a beating heart;
In the wide compass of angelic powers

The instinct of the blindworm has its part;
So in God's kingliest creature we behold
The flower our buds infold.

With no vain praise we mock the stone-carved name

Stamped once on dust that moved with pulse and breath,

As thinking to enlarge that amplest fame

Whose undimmed glories gild the night of death:

We praise not star or sun; in these we see
Thee, Father, only Thee!

Thy gifts are beauty, wisdom, power, and love:

We read, we reverence on this human soul, —
Earth's clearest mirror of the light above, —

Plain as the record on Thy prophet's scroll,
When o'er his page the effluent splendors poured,
Thine own, " Thus saith the Lord!"

This player was a prophet from on high,

Thine own elected. Statesman, poet, sage,
For him Thy sovereign pleasure passed them by, —

Sidney's fair youth, and Raleigh's ripened age,
Spenser's chaste soul, and his imperial mind
Who taught and shamed mankind.

Therefore we bid our hearts' Te Deum rise,

Nor fear to make Thy worship less divine,
And hear the shouted choral shake the skies,

Counting all glory, power, and wisdom Thine,—
For Thy great gift Thy greater name adore,
And praise Thee evermore I

In this dread hour of Nature's utmost need,

Thanks for these unstained drops of freshening dew I

Oh, while our martyrs fall, our heroes bleed,
Keep us to every sweet remembrance true,

Till from this blood-red sunset springs new-born
Our Nation's second morn!

HOW TO USE VICTORY.

The policy of the nation, rince the "to do the duty that comes next us ";

war began, has been eminently the An- in a figure drawn from the card - table,

glo - Saxon policy. That is to say, we it bids us "follow our hand." The only

have not adapted our actions to any pre- branch of the Keltic race which adopts

conceived theory, nor to any central idea, it expresses it in the warlike direction,

From the President downward, every "When you see a head, hit it."

one has done as well as he could in every We have no objection to make to this

single day, doubtful, and perhaps indiffer- so-called practical system in the present

ent, as to what he should do the next day. case, if it only be bvnadly and generous

This is the method dear to the Anglo- ly adopted. If it reduce us to a war

Saxon mind. The English writers ac- of posts, to hand-to-mouth finance, and

knowledge this; they call it the "prac- to that wretched bureau - administration

tical system," and make an especial boast which thinks the day's work is done when

that it is the method of their theology, the day's letters have been opened, dock*

their philosophy, their physical science, eted, and answered, it becomes, it is

their manufactures, and their trade. In true, a very unpractical system, and soon

the language of philosophy, it directs us reduces a great state to be a very little

one. But if the men who direct any country will, in good faith, enlarge their view every day, from their impressions of yesterday to the new realities of to-day, — if they will rise at once to the new demands of to-day, and meet those demands under the new light of to-day, — all the better is it, undoubtedly, if they are not hampered by traditionary theories, if they are even indifferent as to the consistency of their record, and are, thus, as able as they are willing to work out God's present will with all their power. For it must be that the present light of noonday will guide us better at noonday than any prophecies which we could make at midnight or at dawn.

The country, at this moment, demands this broad and generous use of its great present advantages. In three years of sacrifice we have won extraordinary victories. We have driven back the beachline of rebellion so that its territory is now two islands, both together of not half the size of the continent which it boasted when it began. We have seen such demonstrations of loyalty and the love of liberty that we dare say that this is to be one free nation, as we never dared say it before the war began. We are on the edge, as we firmly believe, of yet greater victories, both in the field and in the conscience of the nation. The especial demand, then, made on our statesmen, and on that intelligent people which, aa it appears, leads the statesmen, instead of being led by them, is, "How shall we use our victories?" We have no longer the right to say that the difficult questions will settle themselves. We must not say that Providence will take care of them. We must not say that we are trying experiments. The time for all this has gone by. We .have won victories. We are going to win more. We must show we know how to use them.

Aa our armies advance, for instance, very considerable regions of territory come, for the time, under the military government of the United States. If we painted a map of the country, giving to the Loyal States each its individual

chosen color, and to the Rebel States their favorite Red or Black, we should find that the latter were surrounded by a strip of that circumambient and eternal Blue which indicates the love and the strength of the National Government. The strip is here broad, and there narrow. It is broad in Tennessee, Arkansas, and Louisiana. It stretches up in a narrow line along the Sea Islands and the Atlantic coast. What do we mean to do with this strip, while it is in the special charge of the nation? Do we mean to leave it to the chapter of accidents, as we have done? A few charitable organizations have kept the Sea Islands along, so that they are a range of flourishing plantations, as they used to be. A masterly inactivity, on the other hand, leaves the northern counties of Virginia, this summer, within the very sight of the Capitol, to be the desert and disgrace which they were when they were the scenes of actual war. A handful of banditti rides through them when

o

it chooses, and even insults the communications of our largest army. The people of that State are permitted to point at this desolation, and to say that such arc the consequences of Federal victories. For another instance, take the "Four-Million question." These four million negroes, from whose position the war has sprung, are now almost all set free, in law. A very large number of them — possibly a quarter part of them —are free in fact. One hundred and thirty thousand of them are in the national army. With regard to these men the question is not, "What are you going to do with them when the war is done?" but, "What will you do with them to - day and to - morrow?" Your duty is to use victory in the moment of victory. You are not to wait for its last ramification before you lead in peace and plenty, which ought to follow close in it.s first footsteps.

To an observing and sensitive nation it seems as if all these questions, and many others like them, were not yet fully regarded. Yet they are now the questions of the hour, because they are

« ZurückWeiter »