Imagens das páginas

housewifery cannot counteract the mortification and embarrassment of our present system. I took infinite pains to make my daughter useful. She was a sweet, docile girl, and at the age of eleven often made our tea, arranged the table, and assisted in handing it when we had company; but notwithstanding this early discipline, the awkward blending of lady and housewife led to countless anxieties; indeed, it requires an omnipresent eye to meet one's guests with the personal welcome they demand, while providing for their grosser wants. How many girls like Sukey have I passed months in drilling, when, just as I began to realize the effects of my care, they have taken a sudden whim and departed! How many were there whom I never could teach, whose inattention or wilfulness rendered me miserable! How much hard labour have I performed while paying high prices for that of others! What then can be done to remedy this evil? It is the opinion of Adam Smith, and an humble housekeeper agrees with

him, that the perfection of society consists in the division of labour.

Is it not monstrous that educated, intelligent women, should be obliged to give over their children to the care of servants, and pass

their days in the most menial occupation? And must our lovely daughters be called from intellectual or graceful accomplishments, to associate with the vulgar inmates of the kitchen ?

We have a partial system, which it appears to me might easily be carried through the whole order of social life. We have our chimneysweeps, our wood-sawyers, our bakeries; why not have our grand cooking establishments, our scourers, our window-cleaners, &c. ? I will give one example, a direct one however, of the helplessness of a housekeeper on the present plan of life. She perceives, and none but those who have witnessed it can tell how irritating is the feeling, that about five hundred panes of glass in her house require washing. How can they be cleansed ? It is properly a

man's business, but she must put an inexperienced female to the work who is required for a hundred other things; one, too, who perhaps never wiped a glass before. A particular set of cloths is required, step-ladder, hammer, and a knack at cleaning glass. By the time she has accomplished her task, which is probably imperfectly done, broken a few panes, and left the sashes loose and clattering, dust and flies have been equally active, and the gude man begins to say, “my dear, our windows require a little cleaning.” What a cheering sound would it be to a lady so circumstanced, if she could hear in the street “any windows to clean to-day?" or, what is better, know where to send to an establishment for a person devoted to that object.

What a desideratum is a cooking establishment, where families can be provided with prepared food, and a still greater to have our meals brought to us, now that the improvements in steam can give them hotter than from our own hearths. They could probably be

furnished cheaper than on the present plan. Our husbands would no longer be seen haggling with butchers at their stalls, or balancing raw meat in the open streets; nor should we see decent women, in utter uncertainty of their dinners, throwing up their window-sashes to the passing countrymen, with “ Mister, what's you got to-day?” A friend could drop in without disconcerting a family, and the lady of the house sit without a thorn. How many more smiles would kindle_up around the domestic board, could the wife be assured of her husband's comfort. She has enough to do in the agitating responsibility of her maternal cares; her little ones may be sickly, her own health feeble. Many a woman breaks and sinks beneath the wear and tear of the frame and the affections. She rallies before the world, and “her children rise up and call her blessed," and she is blessed in the conscious attempt to discharge her duty; but cares eat away at her heart; the day presses on her with new toils, the night comes, and they are unfulfilled; she lies down in weari

ness, and rises with uncertainty; her smiles become languid and few, and her husband wonders at the gloominess of his home.

How great a duty is it, then, to study modes of comfort, and preserve the song of cheerfulness in the routine of domestic industry. It is not below the task of legislation, if legislation is a study of the order and happiness of a community, or if legislators would have neat houses, good dinners, and smiling wives.


« AnteriorContinuar »