« ÎnapoiContinuă »
And o'er your sleep, bright shadows, from the wings
Her lot is on you; silent tears to weep,
And patient smiles to wear through suffering's hour,
To pour on broken reeds-a wasted shower!
Watching the stars out by the bed of pain,
And a true heart of hope, though hope be vain;
With its low murmuring sounds and silvery light,
As a sweet dew to keep your souls from blight.
THERE are in the United States one hundred thousand young ladies, as Sir Ralph Abercrombie said of those of Scotland, "the prettiest lassies in a' the world," who know neither to toil nor spin, who are yet clothed like the lilies of the valley; who thrum the piano, and, a few of the more dainty, the harp; who walk, as the Bible says, softly; who have read romances, and some of them seen the interior of theaters; who have been admired at the examination of their high school; who have wrought algebraic solutions on the blackboard; who are, in short, the very roses of the garden, the attar of life; who yet, can never expect to be married, or, if married, to live without shall I speak, or forbear?-putting their own lily hands to domestic drudgery.
We go into the interior villages of our recent wooden
country. The fair one sits down to clink the wires of the piano. We see the fingers displayed on the keys, which, we are sure, never prepared a dinner, nor made a garment for her robust brothers. We traverse the streets of our own city, and the wires of the piano are thrummed in our ears from every considerable house. In cities and villages, from one extremity of the Union to the other, wherever there is a good house, and the doors and windows betoken the presence of the mild months, the ringing of the piano wires is almost as universal a sound, as the domestic hum of life within.
We need not enter in person. Imagination sees the fair one, erect on her music stool, laced, and pinioned, and reduced to a questionable class of entomology, dinging at the wires, as though she could, in some way, hammer out of them music, amusement, and a husband. Look at her taper and creamcolored fingers. Is she a utilitarian? Ask the fair one, when she has beaten all the music out of the keys, "Pretty fair one, canst talk to thy old and sick father, so as to beguile him out of the headache and rheumatism? Canst write a good and straight forward letter of business? Thou art a chemist, I remember, at the examination; canst compound, prepare, and afterward boil, or bake, a good pudding? Canst make one of the hundred subordinate ornaments of thy fair person? In short, tell us thy use in existence, except to be contemplated, as a pretty picture? And how long will any one be amused with the view of a picture, after having surveyed it a dozen times, unless it have a mind, a heart, and, we may emphatically add, the perennial value of utility?"
It is a sad and lamentable truth, after all the incessant din we have heard of the march of mind, and the interminable theories, inculcations, and eulogies of education, that the present is an age of unbounded desire of display and notoriety, of exhaustless and unquenchably burning ambition; and not an age of calm, contented, ripe, and useful knowledge, for the sacred privacy of the parlor. Display, notoriety, surface, and splendor, these are the first aims of the mothers; and can we expect that the daughters will drink in a better spirit? To play, sing, dress, glide down the dance, and get a husband, is the lesson; not to be qualified to render his home quiet, wellordered, and happy.
It is notorious, that there will soon be no intermediate class between those who toil and spin, and those whose claim to be ladies is founded on their being incapable of any value of utility. At present, we know of none, except the little army of martyrs, yclept school-mistresses, and the still smaller corps of editorial and active blue-stockings. If it should be my lot to transmigrate back to earth, in the form of a young man, my first homages in search of a wife would be paid to the thoughtful and pale-faced fair one, surrounded by her little, noisy, refractory subjects, drilling her soul to patience, and learning to drink of the cup of earthly discipline, and more impressively than by a thousand sermons, tasting the bitterness of our probationary course, in teaching the young idea how to shoot. Except, as aforesaid, school-mistresses and blues, we believe, that all other damsels, clearly within the purview of the term lady, estimate the clearness of their title precisely in the ratio of their uselessness.
Allow a young lady to have any hand in the adjustment of all the components of her dress, each of which has a contour which only the fleeting fashion of the moment can settle; allow her time to receive morning visitors, and prepare for afternoon appointments and evening parties, and what time has the dear one to spare, to be useful and do good? To labor! Heaven forefend the use of the horrid term! The simple state of the case is this. There is somewhere, in all this, an enormous miscalculation, an infinite mischief; an evil, not of transitory or minor importance, but fraught with misery and ruin, not only to the fair ones themselves, but to society and the age.
I cannot conceive, that mere idlers, male or female, can have respect enough for themselves to be comfortable. I cannot imagine, that they should not carry about with them such a consciousness of being a blank in existence, as would be written on their forehead, in the shrinking humiliation of perceiving, that the public eye had weighed them in the balance, and found them wanting. Novels and romances may say this or that about their ethereal beauties, their fine ladies tricked out to slaughter my lord A., and play Cupid's archery upon dandy B., and dispatch Amarylis C. to his sonnets. I have no conception of a beautiful woman, or a fine man, in whose eye, in whose port,
in whose whole expression, this sentiment does not stand embodied: “I am called by my Creator to duties; I have employment on the earth; my sterner, but more enduring pleasures are in discharging my duties."
Compare the sedate expression of this sentiment in the countenance of man or woman, when it is known to stand, as the index of character and the fact, with the superficial gaudiness of a simple, good for nothing belle, who disdains usefulness and employment, whose empire is a ball-room, and whose subjects, dandies, as silly and as useless as herself. Which, of the two, has most attractions for a man of sense? The one a help-mate, a fortune in herself, who can aid to procure one, if the husband has it not; who can soothe him under the loss of it, and, what is more, aid him to regain it; and the other a painted butterfly, for ornament only during the vernal and sunny months of prosperity, and then not becoming a chrysalis, an inert moth in adversity, but a croaking, repining, ill-tempered termagant, who can only recur to the days of her short-lived triumph, to imbitter the misery, and poverty, and hopelessness of a husband, who, like herself, knows not to dig, and is ashamed to beg.
We are obliged to use severe language in application to a deep-rooted malady. We want words of power. We need energetic and stern applications. No country ever verged more rapidly towards extravagance and expense. In a young republic, like ours, it is ominous of any thing but good. Men of thought, and virtue, and example, are called upon to look to this evil. Ye patrician families, that croak, and complain, and forbode the downfall of the republic, here is the origin of your evils. Instead of training your son to waste his time, as an idle young gentleman at large; instead of inculcating on your daughter, that the incessant tinkling of a harpsichord, or a scornful and lady-like toss of the head, or dexterity in waltzing, are the chief requisites to make her way in life; if you can find no better employment for them, teach him the use of the grubbing hoe, and her to make up garments for your servants.
Train your son and daughter to an employment, to frugality, to hold the high front, and to walk the fearless step of independence, and sufficiency to themselves in any fortunes, any country, or any state of things. By arts like these, the early
It is notorious, that there will se between those who toil and spin, ladies is founded on their being utility. At present, we know of of martyrs, yclept school-mistresse of editorial and active blue-stockin to transmigrate back to earth, in th first homages in search of a wife v ful and pale-faced fair one, surro refractory subjects, drilling her sou drink of the cup of earthly discipl than by a thousand sermons, tastin bationary course, in teaching the Except, as aforesaid, school-mistre that all other damsels, clearly with lady, estimate the clearness of their of their uselessness.