« ÎnapoiContinuați »
To whom shall art education be given and for what purposes ?
First. It should be given to all children and youth, for its diciplinary, educational and practical value, as well as for its refining and elevating influences.
Second. It should be given to those who have special fitness or desire for the pursuit of art, that they may worthily express the highest and best thought of the age.
Third. It should be given to the people that they may heartily appreciate and encourage all art work, that they may discover in it a new and lasting enjoyment, that their lives may be listed by its contemplation and study.
And finally the signs of the times encourage it and the spirit of the age demands it. If we feel the impulses of this spirit, let us follow them. As women, we find special encouragement to do so in Emerson's Essay on " Fate."
“ The men who come on the stage at one period are all found to be related to each other. Certain ideas are in the air. We are all impressionable. for we are made of them ; all impressionable, but some more than others, and these first express them. This explains the curious contemporaneousness of inventions and discoveries. The truth is in the air and the most impressionable brain will announce it first, but all will announce it a few ininutes later. So women, as most susceptible, are the best index of the coming hour.”
Mrs. Ednah D. Cheney followed in a few brief remarks emphasizing the importance of thorough training in the elements of drawing as preparation either for plastic art or for industrial work.
HOMES FOR UNMARRIED WOMEN.
FROM the autobiography of Harriet Martineau, published after her death, in the Daily News, I make the following extract:
"She felt that she could not be happy, or in the best way useful, if the declining years of her life were spent in lodgings in the morning and drawing-rooms in the evening. A quiet home of her own, and some few dependent on her for their domestic welfare, she believed to be essential to every true woman's peace of mind; and she chose her plan of life accordingly.”
There are sew hearts in this assembly in which the chord struck by these words does not vibrate; and yet, how often those women who seek a thorough culture, and wider opportunities for their sex, are accused of undermining the very foundations of home, and thereby imperilling the dearest interests of society. *
Most of us, while desiring some variety of occupation and occasional change of scene, agree with Phoebe Pyncheon, and “would like a house and a moderate garden-spot of one's own.”
The young girl in her father's house looks forward to a home into which love will one day lead her and crown her queen. Perhaps her bright vision is realized; perhaps youth passes, and she remains in the home of her childhood to soothe the declining years of those who watched over her infancy. Brothers move away, or make homes for themselves, but age creeps on, and death closes her eyes under the old roof tree still.
More often the home is broken up. Life with its myriad scourges of sorrow, bereavement, and changing fortune, not always as cruel as they seem, drives daughters as well as sons into the world to make their own way. So common is this experience that one cannot but marvel that parents do not equip their daughters by thorough education and industrial training for the unequal struggle in which it may, any day, be their lot to engage
the world's workers.
Undoubtedly, the perfect home, the ideal, if you will, is reared by one man and woman, united because for each there is no other than the chosen one. In that home the flame of love never expires; for it is kindled from above, and its light is seen beyond the dwelling. There is mutual service and a daily growth for parents and children, under the Divine tuition, in this noblest of schools. Earth has no fairer picture; its archetype is in the life beyond.
There are many women, an increasing number, it is said, who do not marry; there are some who having crossed the threshold of married life, are forced to turn back and meet the world single-handed. They have the same desire for a home, the same need of it, as their sisters, and I believe that not a few of them can make homes for themselves, in which they may be increasingly happy and useful, only, like Ilarriet Martineau, they must choose their plan of life accordingly, and must keep their purpose ever in view.
How many are simply living along from day to day, working for present bodily need, making no definite provision for the future. Others have some object in view, from time to time reserving for it all that can be spared from their earnings; but few are laying up money for a home with the wise forethought which most men exhibit, and which is expected of them.
I do not forget the large number who are working for others, supporting relatives, or educating brothers and sisters, and who can not save anything, if they would. And it may seem almost cruel irony to urge those whose meagre wages do not allow them to put by anything, to labor for an end apparently unattainable. is the power of concentrated, steady purpose, that it accomplishes even the impossible, and when one seriously undertakes to do anything, it is wonderful how many little helps there are, all along the way. The sacrifice of present pleasure to future good is a condition of success. Small savings, month by month, wisely invested, will grow larger, until they suffice to procure a home suited to the means, and meeting the needs, of its owner. It may be very small and plainly furnished, and may lack
many things in which its mistress takes pleasure, but it is her own, and she will be far happier than in lodgings, or amid the publicity of boarding-house life.
But so great
But a solitary life will have few charms for her, unless she differs from most women. Some etymologists find in the word home the idea of coming together, of a common dwelling place; and one or more associated with her or dependent on her for their domestic welfare are needed for perfect contentment.
There is a rich store of mother-love in many a nature which has never known maternity, and if her means
permit such an one to take into her heart and home one of “Christ's little ones," left to perish for want of just such love and care, who can estimate the good accomplished, or the tide of blessing which may flow in upon her later years! I have heard of a physician who has taken into her home one child after another, choosing, not the fair and winning, but the diseased, unsightly and repulsive, restoring them to health, and training them to honor and usefulness.
Friends inspired with a common purpose, or having sufficient similarity of tastes and mutual affection, may unite their resources and make their home together when it would be difficult for either to do it alone. As Miss Muloch has said: “To see two women whom Providence has denied nearer ties, by a wise substitution, making the best of fate, loving, sustaining and comforting one another, with a tenderness often closer than that of sisters, because it has all the novelty of election which belongs to the conjugal tie itself-this, I say, is an honorable and lovely state.”
An article in the Atlantic Monthly for February, 1875, entitled “ Two Girls who Tried Farming,” is a most pertinent illustration of my theme. So natural, so sensible, so helpful an experience must be a real one. But if ideal, it is possible. There are women who have beaten out a path for themselves, winning homes by their own exertions, and making the way easier for all who come after. Instances will occur to you. Would that there were more of them!
I may mention Mrs. M., who, cruelly deceived in the character of the man she had married, left him after the birth of a son. Her father wanted to take her home, but she preferred to make a home for herself. Leaving the child with her sisters, she went out dress-making, and as soon as she had earned a little money she opened, on a very small scale, a ladies' furnishing store. Her venture prospered, and before long she was independent, and gave employment to a number of seamstresses. Her son received a good business education; a niece, also, was taken into her family and educated at her expense. One day Mrs. M. was called to the death-bed of a woman who begged her to take her little daughter, and bring her up as her own. She could not refuse the prayer, and took the little girl home, who now lives, a happy mother herself, to bless and revere the memory of her benefactor. Mrs. M. was a woman of good sense, force of character, and unusual business capacity. If such results are possible, without previous training, what may we not expect from women who have greater advantages ?
One of the most delightful homes I have ever seen is that of a woman who, with steady purpose, has made her own way by faithful work. After years of successful practice in her profession, she decided to make her permanent residence in another part of the Union. Thither she went, accompanied only by a young woman who to serve her, was willing to leave friends and relatives and a mother in “ the old country” farther away than ever. She bought a house, and together they have made it a home. It is always bright with sunshine and flowers, and exquisite decorations, in which not wealth, but “the beauty sense,” finds varied expression; nor are books and pictures wanting. Strangers are never weary of admiring her rooms; and to the friends whom she delights to welcome, they are a constant joy and refreshment. Well-ordered are all the details of domestic life; the thorough housekeeper does not neglect to provide for home comfort, amid her professional cares, and her garden is one of her dearest interests. The vexed problem of “Mistress and Maid” has found its solution here, On the one side, absolute devotion to the interests of her beloved employer inspire the faithful girl, who always thinks of herself last. On the other, there is careful consideration, sympathy, affection, and a constant desire to make the place of service in every sense a home. Admired, respected and beloved as this
lady is, a friend said of her, “What a work she is doing for women simply by living here and being what she is, and letting people see that a woman's happiness and usefulness is not inseparably connected with her dependence on some man!”
But that is a small part of the good every such woman effects, if her heart be alive to human needs and quickened by divine love. She who has struggled until independent in her own home, may well make it beautiful with all that art and culture and nature give into her hands; and enjoy it with a glad heart, but she will never
to rear a pleasure house
Rather will it be to her a place where she may gather strength to cope wisely and lovingly with the evils under which humanity groans,--a place where all who enter may gather strength and cheer, and be quickened to nobler living.
The value of such homes to those who make them is beyond all price; their value to society and the state must also be taken into account. They are pledges of stability, of intelligence, of good citizenship, of all that preserves the health of the body politic.
But we are sometimes told that such a life is unatural, because it fails to meet " the essentials of woman's being, which are to be supported by and minister to man.” It is indeed to be expected that when women see that they can earn for themselves a subsistence, and dwell in homes of their own, honored by all, they will not “marry” merely " for a home," as the phrase often is. Is that the high and holy import of marriage, or is it “the love of wedded souls?”
The ministry of service is binding on us by our common humanity. He who seeks to advance his own interests must, as a rule, in some way meet the necessities of others. This law knows no limitation of sex. It was to the twelve who contended among themselves for the pre-eminence, that the meek and lowly Master said, "Whosoever will be chief among you, shall be your minister.”
Woman has not been slow to devote herself to many blessed ministries for His sake. We believe that in a home, even if it be a solitary one, lead a self-reliant, earnest life, she is in the best position to minister to others, unless she chooses some special form of service which requires the surrender of all home ties.
The essentials of Woman's being—who shall dare to say what they are but Woman herself, when divested of frivolity and all low aims, she rises to some worthy conception of “the power of an endless life," and listens reverently for her call. Her call! “Though it tarry, wait for it; it will surely come.”
Through the ever-shifting web of circumstance, through other lives whose paths cross her own, opportunity-messenger of the Most Iligh---challenges the soul. In her response her own needs are revealed to her, needs which can only be fully met in “God, who is our Home.”
Through all the years of the past, Woman, by imperceptible degrees, has come to apprehend the tardiness and imperfection of human progress, the inadequacy of purpose and method, in all departments of civilization, to meet human needs or to fitly develop human capabilities. She did not go on a voyage of discovery for this fact. In every phase of her limited but intense experience, it became obvious. Whatever her avocation or duty, it pressed upon her notice. Looking out from her nursery windows upon the world, the wife and mother observed the gladness and beauty of all natural things, the response and harmonious balance of earth, sea and sky, and, turning inward, noted her own isolation, her dispossession of elasticity and health, and, more than all, the unbalanced temperaments of her children; and their consequent imperfections and deformities. And however strong her purpose to repair her little realm, or develop her children into anything like symmetry, mentally or physically, she found herself ignorant of causes, inefficient in method, often unable to define her thought even to herself, much less to give it that directness and simplicity of expression that is most effective with the child, and is the result of experience and culture. Thus, through the opportunities and exigencies of motherhood, Woman became conscious of her great need of mental discipline and development,--her want of a higher and more universal culture.
Again, turning to her religious life, Woman received with tender scrutiny the portraiture of Jesus, as elaborated by the intellect and imagination of Man; yet, observing that the Magdalens of society paused not nor turned aside to find the feet of the Just One, she inferred an absence of some element in the orator's eloquence, an incompleteness of moral force and method that should attract and unitize humanity. Thus, that she might vitalize and supplement the religious elements of an intellectual age, the spiritual forces of her being have been awakened to the necessity of expression, and she conscientiously invests herself with the orator's responsibilities.
And yet again-shut into the narrow limits of her love-lise, the great political world appeared to Woman like some chaotic mystery which she spontaneously avoided; a never ending inharmony of contending forces. But when she came to fully comprehend that this political Sinai established the regulations of her own little world; that its commandments could change her love-land into an absolute monarchy; that its edicts of war and conquest, compelling the sacrifice of her idols, left her ever more desolate; then there arose within her an imperative desire to acquire a knowledge and use of these mysterious forces that were so powerful to subjugate or serve, in order that she might avert the evil, and establish the right.
These social, religious and political needs coming slowly into Woman's apprehension, planted a chronic discontent in her heart and brain, arousing her from all the apathy of the past, awakening her to a consciousness of her capabilities and uses, filling her spirit with an earnest enthusiasm to discover the imperfections of civilization, and to work wisely and well for their repair. As a means to this end, the Woman's Congress has been inaugurated. I apprehend that the primary object of this Association is to ascertain how we may best accept all present opportunities of influence and action, and fill them with utility and blessing.
The most important and remarkable fact of the present certury is this awakening of Woman to the necessity of her active co-operation in human affairs. Vivified by